Students have had difficulty concentrating through lectures since they were first invented. However, researchers have found a remarkably simple way for students to understand and remember significantly more from a spoken lecture without having to change the teaching practices or put extra strain on the listeners. Every 10-15 minutes, the speaker stops talking for 2-3 minutes and encourages the students to speak to each other about what they’ve learned. It only adds a few minutes to the total speaking time, but studies done in 1987 resulted in substantial improvements in long-term retention of information, and a two letter grade increase by the end of semester.
A lot of churches are starting to creatively incorporate opportunities for discussion into the sermon or at the end of the sermon. Some churches seat people around tables, and break for conversation at regular intervals; other churches sit in rows and break into small discussion groups after the speaker finishes. Either way, they’ve found a fantastic and easy-to-incorporate technique for turning passive listeners into active and engaged learners, and overcoming some of the inherent weaknesses of monologue/broadcasting method of communication. It’s a great starting point for becoming more empowering and participatory as a church, without going so far as to bypass the sermon altogether.
Is your church doing anything like this? How useful have you found it? If not, do you think it would be easy enough to do?