Discussion about lecture styles and lecture notes

I’ve been thinking several years now about lecture styles, what lectures are there for, what makes a good and useful lecture and so on. These deliberations are fuelled by my own experience (both as a student and as a lecturer), by lots of Part III student feedback that I’ve read over the years, some undergrad student feedback, and discussions with colleagues from maths and other subjects. I’d be very interested to hear different views, so do please comment if you have anything to share.

Maths lectures are often criticized “from the outside” as being “stuck in the last century”. While I agree that there is something to think about here, and we shouldn’t hold on to our ways just because we’re used to them and “that is what we’ve always done” (in the usual Cambridge way), here are some thoughts to consider. As there are lots, I’ll list the questions/topics here with a short description, and then have a separate post for each, where people can read my thoughts and comment with their own.

What do maths lectures teach?

Mathematical arguments (and how to come up with them) vs facts.

Computer projection vs Blackboard

Developing arguments vs “all at once” presentation; how much the students can see at any one time.

Should we give out lecture notes?

Convenience vs educational considerations; catering to different learning styles.

What can lectures teach that a book can’t?

A thread/ good subset of the area/ cohesive subsection vs all possible results and finding the thread for oneself.

(Possibly to be continued)

Please do leave comments whether you are a lecturer, supervisor or undergraduate or anyone else who has thought about these issues; everybody’s opinions and viewpoints are welcome.


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