Interdisciplinary theories in support of positive educational effects

This research is an interdisciplinary investigation, bringing together concepts from a variety of sources, and using them to explain the ways in which messages and meanings are shared during lectures in tertiary education. The paper concentrates on theories, arguments and findings from communication theory, education theory, psycholinguistics, educational psychology and performance theory.

Evidence is provided to support a view of the lecture as a valuable educational technique, and one which therefore deserves to be the focus of increased levels of research, development and support.

Rather than viewing a lecture audience as passive consumers it will be shown that a well-crafted lecture can capture the attention and engage the audience in active listening. In addition, it will be argued that audience feedback, mostly via nonverbal pathways, can be monitored by the lecturer to allow the presentation of content to be tailored during a given lecture event. The lecture as an event and the lecturer as performer, albeit in a professional capacity, are key to this understanding of communication in the lecture theatre.

This paper also considers the lecture as part of a whole educational process, rather than isolating lectures from other classes, such as tutorials and seminars. In this way lectures can be shown to provide a supporting framework of shared meaning about a subject, which can be used to enable a process of individual knowledge acquisition, interpretation and attitude change through subsequent group discussions.