I heard a keynote at the GRAND 2011 conference who mentioned a “learning pyramid” which purports to show that lecturing is the worst way to teach.
I went looking for the research behind this and it seems that the pyramid is a hoax. People remember 10% of what they read…? – a knol by Rutger van de Sande is a short study that tried to figure out what were really the percentages. Van de Sande’s study came up with different numbers: Hearing: 36%, Reading: 51%, Seeing: 35%, Hearing and Seeing: 54%, Discussing: 50%, Experiencing: 70%, and Explaining: 58%.
Other blogs and essays on the subject include: Will Thalheimer‘s blog debunking the pyramid. There is an article in Education titled, The Learning Pyramid: Does It Point Teachers in the Right Direction? (that I haven’t read) that looks at the source for the numbers. Finally there is a long blog post on the subject by David Jones. He says that the “research is generally referenced back to the National Training Laboratories in Bethel Maine.” The NTL has apparently lost the original data.
This then raises the question of whether lecturing is really so bad.