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Schools University lecture hours

  1. Nov 5, 2012 #1
    I was thinking as a student, is there some sort of thought that goes into have 2.5 hour lectures twice a week?

    I am thinking that this is not the best layout for learning, and was wondering if this has been studied by anyone to see what lecture times maximize student learning.

    For me, in a 2.5 hour lecture, I honestly can keep myself awake for maybe 20-30 minutes before I begin to doze off. If the lecture becomes very conceptually or mathematically intense, I fall in and out of consciousness, simply because I don't understand the concept being taught, and it's hard to keep awake when you are so lost your professor might as well be speaking another language.

    Has this been looked at from a pedagogical perspective, or is it just something that the schools do for the sake of convenience and scheduling? Whatever happened to the days of meeting 5 days a week for 1 hour like in K-12?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 5, 2012 #2
    I have a few 2.5-3 hour lectures per week. I personally think this is too long. I prefer 1.5 hours, myself. Once I hit 2 hours, I typically start to lose my concentration (unless the lecture material is completely fascinating). However, one of my math classes is only 50 minutes per lecture, which I find much too short. I think 1.5 hours is my ideal lecture (ideally 2-3 times per week). However, I prefer fewer lectures per week so I may have more time outside of class to explore/learn topics my self.
  4. Nov 5, 2012 #3

    Simon Bridge

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    Thought does go into every aspect of the classes - student learning is usually considered however it is well known that students do most of their learning outside of lectures anyhow. Lectures are group contact-time with the lecturer.

    In NZ it is usual for undergrad physics to consist of two full-year lecture courses and a full-year laboratory course. The lab course is held once a week and lasts 3hours. The lecture courses have two 1-hour lectures each week each. So you spend 7hours a week in lessons. Then there are assignments.

    Papers without a practical component run at 3-hours a week typically.
    There is a lot of variation though - I did a post-grad constitutional law paper which was for 5 days solid, 3hours am and 3 hours pm, 1 hour for lunch... and assignments. The timing was because the course had a guest lecturer who was only available for a short time.

    When you attend lectures it is very important to review the subject in advance.
    You should enter the theater already knowing the subject - so you can watch for the emphasis and lecturers perspective.

    Aside: I understand that in the US many students will work part-time as well. Longer lecturer times may mean you have at least one whole day with no classes? I'd expect it would be easier to organize a course to give yourself more afternoons free for making money. In NZ the taxpayer subsidizes your courses.
  5. Nov 5, 2012 #4


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    Which course is it, and how long is the term?

    Different colleges and universities use different scheduling systems. Where I work, a "normal" lecture course has three 1-hour lectures per week for about 14 weeks. If it has a lab, it's usually (up to) 3 hours once per week.

    Long lectures are usually for scheduling reasons. Some students actually like them because they're easier to fit into their schedule if they're also working, especially for evening courses.
  6. Nov 6, 2012 #5
    Math and Physics classes, chemistry is even longer (though it's a 5 unit class).

    The main thing actually is math, from 8:15-10:20am. It's very hard to keep concentrated for the entirety of this class, I don't think I've ever stayed fully aware for an entire lecture without dozing off. It's a 16 week semester
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