Learning how to read? the value of lectures in the context of HE English Literature

Katarina Stenke


The increasing pace of change in today’s teaching and learning, the challenging employability environments and the plethora of new technologies now at the disposal of teachers may seem to render obsolete the older teaching and learning methodologies. However, this reflective case study suggests that one of the oldest delivery modes of all, the lecture, remains a relevant and potentially valuable way of connecting with and supporting students in their learning, particularly in subjects where students are expected to read at length or otherwise to engage with extended and complex discursive modes. This case study offers evidence and arguments for reconsidering the role of lectures in teaching and learning higher education English Literature, taking as its evidence base levels 4 and 6 undergraduate English Literature modules delivered in 2017-18 and 2018-19 at the University of Greenwich. Rather than dismissing – as does much recent research – lectures as encouraging ‘passive’ learning, this reflective study proposes lecturing as a teaching methodology with unique potential.


English Literature, Lectures, Social Learning, Literacy; Teaching and Learning

Full Text:



Alsford, S (January 2018) Third Party Observation report on Author, 2-hour combined lecture and seminar for University of Greenwich Level 6 module “School for Scandal: Literature of the Long Eighteenth Century”

Barthes, R (1977) Death of the Author. In Image, Music, Text. New York: Polity Press.

Biggs, J and Tang, C (2009) Teaching for Quality Learning at University. 3rd en. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Bligh, D (1998) What’s the Use of Lectures? 5th ed. Exter: Intellect.

Bloom, B (1956) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York, NY: David Mc Kay. Quoted Fry et al. (2015).

Brown, S & Race, P (2002) Lecturing: A Practical Guide. Kogan Page.

Chambers, E & Marshall, G (2006) Teaching and Learning English Literature. London: Sage Publications.

Fry, H, Ketteridge, S, Marshall, S (2015). A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. 4th edn. Abingdon: Routledge.

French, S & Kennedy, G (2017) “Reassessing the Value of University Lectures,” Teaching in Higher Education, 22:6: 639-654. DOI:10.1080/13562517.2016.1273213

Foucault, M (1991) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Graff, G (1987) Professing Literature: An Institutional History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lacan, J (2001) Écrits: A Selection. Routledge.

Latour, B (2007) Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lave, J (1993) The Practice of Learning. In S. Chaiklin & J. Lave (eds.), Understanding Practice: Perspectives on Activity and Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: pp. 3-32. DOI:10.1017/CBO9780511625510.002

Light, G, Cox, R & Calkins, S (2009) Learning and Teaching in HIgher Education: The Reflective Professional. London: Sage.

Lloyd, D H (1968) “A Concept of Improvement of Learning Response in the Taught Lesson,” Visual Education, October: 23-25.

Morton J (December 2017) Third Party Observation report on Author, 1-hour lecture for University of Greenwich Level 4 survey module “The Canon.”

Papert, S (1993). The Children's Machine: Rethinking Schools in the Age of the Computer. New York: Basic Books.

Piaget, J (1950, repr. 2001). The Pyschology of Intelligence. Tr. M. Piercy and E. Berlyne. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Race, P (2007) The Lecturer’s Toolkit. 3rd edn. London: Routledge.

Scholes, R (1998) The Rise and Fall of English: Reconstructing English as a Discipline. New Haven: Yale UP.

Student evaluation results for University of Greenwich modules “The Canon” and “School for Scandal,” 2018, 2019

Wenger, E (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wenger, E, McDermott, R, & Synder, W (2002). Cultivating Communities of Practice: a Guide to Managing Knowledge. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21100/compass.v14i1.1146


  • There are currently no refbacks.