Straight Outta Quebec: Students prefer lectures over tech

We here at OPOSSEM hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving (or, for our Canadian readers, a nice Grey Cup weekend)!

Speaking of Canada, University Affairs reports on a recent study of 15,000 students and 2,500 faculty in Quebec by Vivek Venkatesh of Concordia University and Magda Fusaro of the Université du Québec à Montréal on faculty and student preferences for classroom activities. The findings suggest that students may not be as into the use of new instructional techniques and technology as some faculty and pedagogical experts suggest:

“Students are old school – they want lectures. They want to listen to a professor who’s engaging, who’s intellectually stimulating and who delivers the content to them,” says Vivek Venkatesh, associate dean of academic programs and development in the school of graduate studies at Concordia University. Dr. Venkatesh says this goes against much of what he hears at professional development workshops that stress interactive learning strategies, often using technology. ...

The results indicate that students and professors don’t always agree on what works best in the classroom, says Dr. Fusaro. “Our analysis showed that teachers think that their students feel more positive about their classroom learning experience if there are more interactive, discussion-oriented activities. In reality, engaging and stimulating lectures, regardless of how technologies are used, are what really predict students’ appreciation of a given university course.”

It's not clear how much information technology and non-traditional teaching these students had been exposed to, so it's hard for me to judge whether or not these results would generalize to students who had such a background. Certainly the pressure, from political leaders (in the public sector) and in many institutional settings, is to make greater use of technology and distance learing tools, and the "MOOC" buzzword increasingly lurks over all of these discussions, but we should be cautious in assuming that these techniques are ideal for everyone; after all, most (if not all) of us were taught using traditional lectures, and certainly my fondest high school and college classroom memories include professors whose only technological aid was a piece of chalk.
Thanks to Michelle Dion for the news tip. Found a story you'd like to share with OPOSSEM's audience?  Drop me an email at, or post in the forums!