Lecturing: Advantages and Disadvantages of the Traditional Lecture Method

Adapted with permission from the Office of Instructional Resources, University of Illinois-Urbana  Champaign.


  • Gives the instructor the chance to expose students to unpublished or not readily available material.
  • Allows the instructor to precisely determine the aims, content, organization, pace and direction of a presentation. In contrast, more student-centered methods, e.g., discussions or laboratories, require the instructor to deal with unanticipated student ideas, questions and comments.
  • Can be used to arouse interest in a subject.
  • Can complement and clarify text material.
  • Complements certain individual learning preferences. Some students depend upon the structure provided by highly teacher-centered methods.
  • Facilitates large-class communication.



  • Places students in a passive rather than an active role, which hinders learning.
  • Encourages one-way communication; therefore, the lecturer must make a conscious effort to become aware of student problems and student understanding of content without verbal feedback.
  • Requires a considerable amount of unguided student time outside of the classroom to enable understanding and long-term retention of content. In contrast, interactive methods (discussion, problem-solving sessions) allow the instructor to influence students when they are actively working with the material.
  • Requires the instructor to have or to learn effective writing and speaking skills.