Are long winded lectures educational mal-practice? Time to pay attention to the research.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that students retain little of our lectures, and research on determining the “average attention span,” while varying, seems to congregate around eight to ten minutes (“Attention Span Statistics,” 2015), (Richardson, 2010).


One thing is clear: It’s time to get off the long winded soap box and pay attention to the research.

This piece is addressed to traditional faculty struggling to break their long lecture habits. As such it applies directly to online faculty who retained their long lecture habit when they moved to the virtual classroom.  

Recent research from EDx (Harvard and MIT) indicates that a short, 6 minute, talking head lecture from an enthusiastic teacher is highly effective.  See Optimal Video Length for Student Engagement:

It is difficult to give up long held assumptions about our teaching practice.  One benefit of the ‘disruption’ caused by online learning is having a database record of teaching effectiveness. As teachers we need to keep the lectures short.  If we’ve got more to say – chunk it!


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