Method: Lecture

The primary purpose of a traditional lecture class is the transfer of the lecturer’s knowledge and experience to the audience.

Many students prefer the lecture method, as it provides them with content (e.g., rules and terminology) in a relatively straightforward and direct manner.

And many professors favor the lecture method for certain purposes, including:

  • Communicating substantive content, such as terminology, foundational concepts, or rules of law;
  • Highlighting issues for discussion; and
  • Modeling various skills.

Used for these purposes, the lecture method may be economical and effective in presenting a great deal of information from one person to a large group in a short time.

However, beyond modeling, the lecture method is not particularly effective for developing comprehension or teaching cognitive or lawyering skills. Moreover, there is some risk that, if used continuously, the lecture method prevents the development of comprehension and analytical skills, as students tend to become dependant on the professor for “what to think.”

To help students develop skills — including the ability to spot legal issues, to read cases carefully so as to identify a holding as opposed to its dicta, to recognize when a particular analysis is appropriate, or to weigh the policy implications of various rules — law students need to practice. A one shot dissertation, no matter how crystal clear, will not allow the students to internalize the activity without practice or repetition. Therefore your professors attempt to use a combination of teaching methodologies.