Image of students standing in a circle.

Given the gravity of current national and international events, the furor sparked by a recent Op-Ed about lecturing in college classes came as something of a surprise.  

Because let’s face it, it’s not often that a national conversation erupts about teaching strategies in higher education—even if the discourse is launched by the Sunday New York Times.   

In her October 17, 2015 Times Op-Ed “Lecture Me.  Really,” Molly Worthen argues in favor of the traditional lecture model of teaching. Worthen is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a contributing opinion writer for the Times, Slate, and other print and online media. Her piece set off a lively altercation among faculty members, administrators, and teaching center colleagues in colleges and universities across the country. Two widely read responses were written by Rice University Center for Teaching Director Joshua Eyler, and by Assistant Director Elizabeth Barre

Worthen’s piece also caught the eye of several University of Iowa faculty members who offered their own thoughts about—among other things—her characterization of active learning as a “craze.”  Several of them related their own experiences implementing active-learning strategies—both the benefits and challenges—in TILE, Gen Ed, and even large-lecture courses. 

Incorporating active learning strategies does not necessarily mean eliminating lecture. In fact, even most TILE courses entail some degree of lecture, which presumably would make Professor Worthen happy. 

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