Question-based Lectures

Authors: Dena Plemmons and Michael Kalichman, 2008

A fundamental premise of active learning is that students generate, not just receive, new approaches and understandings. One approach to help achieve this goal is to use a lecture format, but to structure the lecture around questions rather than simply delivering content. For example, an entire lecture about authorship could be based on engaging students in conversations to answer questions such as:

  • What does it mean to be an author of an academic publication?
  • Why is authorship important to academics?
  • What are the criteria for authorship?
  • If there is more than one author, what is the significance of the order of authorship?
  • Are there written guidelines or rules for authorship? What are they? Are they typically followed?
  • Other than authorship, how can credit be given to someone who has made an important contribution?
  • What can be done to minimize the risk of disputes about authorship?
  • What can be done if you have a dispute about authorship?
One variation on this approach is to structure the lecture around a single case, but instead of the lecturer asking the questions, the students are challenged to ask questions of the lecturer about what they need to know in order to best address the challenges presented by the case. In this way, the lecturer might deliver content similar to that in a traditional lecture, but it is provided in a sequence and fashion defined by the students.