Why do big lectures exist?

Brad DeLong gives four reasons why big lectures might still exist, despite the increasing availability of cheap books since lectures were invented: because of budget stringency, to provide information through alternative communication channels, to encourage discipline, and because gathering in large groups is an age-old sociological event.

The trouble is, all of these things explain seminars as well as big lectures except for the first one, budget stringency. If universities could all afford enough faculty to offer classes of twelve students or less, why wouldn’t they? Except in those cases where the lecturer simply reads from the PowerPoint presentation, there don’t seem to be any significant differences between lectures and seminars that aren’t somehow related directly to the size of the class.

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One response to “Why do big lectures exist?

  1. Reading from Powerpoint presentations. I don’t appreciate that too much. Maybe a good lecturer explain the content in an interesting way and using a good sense of humour. That would be nice:D wouldn’t it?

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