Characterizing the Effective Modern Medical School Lecture

K. H.Vincent Lau, Robert Fallar, Erica Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Recent guidelines from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) based on adult learning principles recommend promotion of active learning, which has led to the evaluation of audience response systems and optimization of multimedia use to enhance audience engagement. We assessed the use of these and similar new techniques in delivering medical school lectures in conjunction with traditional techniques, to develop updated “best practice” lecture guidelines and identify lecture characteristics that correlate best with student satisfaction. Methods: We evaluated 39 recorded lectures given by 13 current or prior course directors of second-year pathophysiology courses at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Based on student ratings, the lectures were divided into those given by “above average” or “below average” lecturers. We scored each lecture on 47 distinct characteristics. Results: Using the student t test to compare the “above average” and “below average” lectures for each characteristic, we found four characteristics that differed significantly between the two groups—oral summarization of key points, presence of summary slide in the presentation, asking questions that require a show of hands from the class, and rank of full professor as compared to associate or assistant. Discussion: The characteristics that distinguish the “above-average” from “below-average” lecturers share a theme of summarizing information and engaging the audience through questioning involving the entire class. Our study did not identify improved student satisfaction with recently developed techniques such as using electronic clickers or asking students to discuss questions among themselves. Future work includes assessing the effect of subjective qualities of lecturers on ratings and evaluating a broader range of lecturers, including those who are not course directors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-112
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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