Lecture vs. Discussion in the Classroom

Since the majority of my experience as an adult learner has been in the field of human and social development – I would have to say that most of my Instructors have based their curriculum on the concept Brookfield refers as “…discussion-based teaching…” ( 2015, p.82). Since a large part of our work  in the field is on a case by case basis it makes decision making a discretional process. I find that discussing issues with other professionals is often a ‘best practice’ technique in my day to day work environment. Although that is not to say that there are not some very impactful lectures and highly effective presentations to be used in the human and social development field’s educational platform.  I believe that there are many and if carefully selected and presented to the group of learners there can certainly been a great benefit to be gained. There are however, generally speaking more informal learning moments through class discussions on certain key topics, case scenario’s, theory applications etc.

I feel I have gained a wealth of information from my own past discussions with co-learners and have as a result –  grown as a practitioner. Certainly with the popularity of on-line education over the past few years, there are many more available forums for an Instructor to host their lecture on. For instance many Instructor’s effectively use blogs, webcasts, U- tube videos etc.  I have found that there are more opportunities now more than ever before for leaners to gain timely knowledge and a more clear understanding of a subject matter as a result of participating in a less formal group forum such as being involved in Wiki posts, weekly Skype chats and online class discussions. The benefit is that by discussing various topics that include psychology, human behaviour(s) and theory related to the type of work learners can take when reading and responding to the online posts or forums. Which for some is a definite plus.

“Well suited presentations can be crucial to students’ development as learners.” ( Brookfield, 2015, p. 82).  This is not to say that that informal discussions should take the place over effective presentations in my field of learning.  I would say that these are all excellent conversation starters and can most certainly ‘add’ to any discussion. A well prepared, efficient and effective power point slideshow can help bridge complex concepts and/or theories.  Instructors can build discussions around particular slides and then record/update the slides to reflect key points of the discussions.I believe there is a place and a time for both traditional lectures and formal and/or informal discussions within a classroom – whether it happens to be on-line or face to face setting. The most important thing to remember in teaching is to use a variety of teaching methods as one type may resonate more with a particular learner’s needs such as a discussion-based versus a more visual  type of presentation. Whichever method if selected, it is more important that the lecture and/or discussion is well planned and suits the needs of the group of learners that it is being used with.



Brookfield, S.D., (2015). The Skillful Teacher, On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the

            Classroom. (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.















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