Traditionally, a university teaches its students through lecture and discussion, and business school is no different. Most MBA courses fall into this lecture-and-discussion format, with some putting most of the emphasis on the lecture and others focusing more on discussion. While MBA students can customize their business degree by choosing specific electives, most programs have a core curriculum of required MBA courses that will be delivered via the lecture-discussion method.
Core curriculum often includes courses in finance, accounting, probability and statistics, marketing, economics, operations, strategy, decision models, teamwork and leadership. This purpose of this format is to convey business theory through the lecture, then clarify the information, add details and depth, and answer student questions in the discussion portion.
The lecture format, supplemented by discussion, is ideal for conveying this theoretical knowledge to students. Although lectures can be seen as the direct delivery of information from professor to student, there are drawbacks to the method that discussion may not be able to offset. Nonetheless, lecture and discussion remain the backbone of MBA courses.
Pros and Cons
As previously mentioned, lectures allow teachers to convey business theory to students quickly and directly. The structured format helps professors deliver a set lesson plan within the time limits set by the class period, going over textbook material as well as adding details that they think will be useful. The professor can control the material, choosing how much information to convey while leaving as much or as little time as he or she deems necessary for questions and discussion. Comfort with this method is also enhanced by familiarity on both the instructor’s and students’ parts. The structure of the lecture-then-discussion format can also help students take notes easily. In addition, the fact that a human, rather than a book, is sharing the information often makes it easier to understand and absorb.
Despite their status as the mainstay of education, lectures do have their drawbacks. Even with a good lecturer at the front of the class, some students — non-auditory learners, students with short attention spans, weak note-takers and others — may have difficulties picking up the material. Having the chance for discussion, however, allows students to provide feedback and ask questions about concepts they may not have understood during the lecture. Active participation in discussion sessions can help students overcome some of the drawbacks of the lecture method of teaching. Also, this method does not necessarily teach critical thinking or real-world applications, as other types of curricula can.