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Study: Popular Professors Aren’t Better Instructors

Via Inside Higher Ed:

Imagine you receive the same lecture twice: once from a charismatic lecturer speaking fluently without notes and maintaining eye contact; and again from a hesitant speaker, slumped over her notes and stumbling over her words. Which is better?

In terms of what you learn there is surprisingly little to choose between the two, according to a team of psychologists.

The researchers asked two groups of students to sit through the same lecture delivered in radically different styles. When asked afterward how much they felt they had learned, those who had experienced the more accomplished performance believed they had learned more than the second group. However, when tested, there was little difference found between them, with those attending the “better” lecture barely outperforming their poorly taught peers.

“The fluent instructor was rated significantly higher than the disfluent instructor on traditional instructor evaluation questions, such as preparedness and effectiveness,” say the researchers, in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. “However, lecture fluency did not significantly affect the amount of information learned.”

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