The Handbook for Economics Lecturers

1.1 Opportunities provided by lectures

Lectures provide key opportunities for students to learn about the subject they have chosen to study in an efficient way. The lecture will typically convey and prioritise information about the subject in a relatively condensed format. It can also enthuse students and provide a suitable framework for further study. Students are exposed, most likely for the first time, to a professional scholar who may be a researcher at the forefront of that aspect of the discipline. Lectures provide a traditional link between research and teaching. They help to preserve a culture of learning in Higher Education in which undergraduate study is viewed as an induction into an academic discipline, a way of viewing the world.

There are also clear benefits to the lecturer. Assuming that an academic is lecturing on a similar topic each year, the up-front costs of preparing a set of lectures are offset by their re-usability. Also, the traditional lecture, being teacher centred, can minimise the stress for those academics that are hesitant to relinquish control of the learning process to students.

Lectures have additional benefits for the institution. It is seen as making an efficient use of the lecturer's time, since it allows teaching to take place in classes with a very high student/staff ratio. This is likely to become an increasingly compelling incentive in an era of declining resources. The Labour government’s stated objective of increasing participation towards 50% of those aged 18 to 30 by the end of the decade while maintaining standards could, according to the Association of University Teachers, mean that higher education institutions would need to find places for up to 670,000 more students in this time.