A 1000 years of lectures. Is it time to make a change?

Simon Rimmington


Since the first university was established the enduring method of ‘teaching’ has been the lecture. Is there still a place for ‘lecturing’ in 21st century higher education? Lecturing is multi-faceted and not simply confined to the lecture theatre but traditionally defined as “continuous exposition by the teacher,” where students remain passive. This model is undeniably familiar to those who work in HE.

Why may this be a problem? Does this singular approach fit an increasingly diverse student population whose social and communication experience and needs are not ‘traditional’?
The Keele FY has undergone significant growth over the past few years. It is currently on a journey to develop a new curriculum to meet the challenges of expansion and diversity. At the forefront is how to build an educational environment that is responsive to the needs of diverse learners to ensure that they have the opportunities to optimise their potential. However, the FY should not be seen in isolation but develop into an institutional testing ground for educational innovation. The first stage is to break the cycle of the lecture – tutorial and create more opportunities for a socially mature educational environment where the delivery is continually challenged and examined at a more nuanced level.
The Keele FY has 20-25% of students who have a disclosed disability. We are seeing more students with social communication impairment but the HE environments, both educationally and socially, create hurdles and barriers that many students struggle to negotiate.

This presentation aims to highlight the severe, sometimes unknown, challenges that students at Keele face due to the unintended consequences of traditional HE teaching delivery. It will highlight how the new FY curriculum is starting to address the strategic responses to targeted support for the 21st century students.