Evaluating the effectiveness of the lecture versus independent study

Debra A. DaRosa*, Paul Kolm, Hugh C. Follmer, L. Beaty Pemberton, William H. Pearce, Stephen Leapman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The lecture method continues to be the predominant teaching medium in medical education despite widespread emphasis to reduce the lecture hours and make more time available for independent study. This study evaluated the impact on student test scores and study time when taught using the independent study versus lecture approach. Third-year surgery clerks (n = 205) from five medical schools participated in the study. Learning objectives, multiple choice and essay questions were developed for a given topic in surgery. A lecture outline with audiovisuals and an independent study guide were also developed. The teaching method to be used with students in the first rotation was determined randomly for each institution. The alternate teaching method was to be employed in the second rotation. A Lecturer Evaluation Form was used to assess the individuals giving the lecture to measure comparability among lecturers. A Study Habit Survey was completed by students at the end of each clerkship rotation to determine the amount of time and resources used. The written examinations were administered at the end of each clerkship. A two-way analysis of variance was used to determine school and method differences on exam performance, lecturer assessment by students, and self-reported study hours. T tests were used to study differences in study hours between the two groups. The results showed no differences (p > .05) in students' knowledge as measured by test performance or in the amount of time spent studying. Findings provide added support to medical faculty advocating a decrease in lecture hours and an increase in more active learning strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-146
Number of pages6
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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