Hybrid Dialog: Dialogic Learning in Large Lecture Classes

Hybrid Dialog: Dialogic Learning in Large Lecture Classes

Tobias Zimmermann (University of Zurich, Switzerland), Karen-Lynn Bucher (University of Zurich, Switzerland) and Daniel Hurtado (University of Zurich, Switzerland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0011-9.ch312
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Attendance at classical lectures usually leads to rather poor learning success. A wide variety of studies show that while lectures are as effective as any other method for transmitting information, they are inferior in many other dimensions. Lectures are not as effective as discussion methods in promoting thought and they are ineffective at teaching behavioral skills and subject-related values as well as at awakening interest in a subject. Still ex-cathedra teaching is a favored way to cope with a high student-to-teacher ratio. To solve this conflict between organizational and pedagogical requirements, a group of researchers at the Institute of Teacher Education at the University of Zurich has developed a hybrid course setting using an online learning platform. Their setting incorporates a dialog among students within a large lecture class. Furthermore a feedback loop enables the lecturer to continuously adjust the content of the lecture to the learning process of the students. In this article, the authors first present the structure of this setting and then illustrate how to implement it by the web-based open source learning management system OLAT (Online Learning and Training). Based on their research, they focus on key components for the success of their hybrid dialog. They show how individual and group learning can be fostered with corresponding assignments, assessments, and assigned roles such as moderators. Thus, the authors will define their position that the challenge of a large lecture class can be met while successfully implementing social learning and process-oriented assessments of academic achievement.
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During the 20th century, a lot of comparisons between different academic teaching methods have been undertaken. While more than a few of them didn’t show any significant results, some trends still can be discerned. They can be summed up to the following three basic propositions (cf. the meta-analyses in Bligh, 2001, pp. 3–20):

  • 1.

    Lectures appear as effective in transmitting information as other methods.

  • 2.

    Lectures are less appropriate than discussions when aiming at promoting student thought and the acquisition of procedural knowledge.

  • 3.

    Lectures are not qualified to change student attitudes and value systems.

Concerning 1): In 298 studies, no significant differences showed up between the declarative knowledge students acquired through the following teaching methods: Lectures, discussions, reading and independent study, inquiry (e.g. projects), and others, mostly audio, TV, computer-assisted learning (Bligh, 2001, pp. 4–8). The meta-analysis of Dubin and Taveggia (1968) came to almost the same conclusion.

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