From students to scientists: The impact of interactive engagement in lectures

Craig McMillan, Daphne Loads, Heather A McQueen


“Graduate attributes” are widely believed to be important in developing the scientific skill-set, with generic skills being viewed as more important than discipline-specific qualities. Importantly, students need opportunities to think and practice in ways akin to experts. The continued use of didactic lectures in university education often leads to the accumulation of superficial knowledge, and does not adequately train students to acquire the skills and attributes required of an effective scientist: critical thinking, an inquiring mind and creativity. We analysed active learning lecture strategies in a second year genetics course to determine their effectiveness in developing the scientific skill-set. These were found to be more beneficial than standard lecturing. Investigation of one of these strategies, the “quecture” (an adaptation of the flipped classroom), found that students did not view this method as being the most useful, despite being the most interactive. Our evidence suggests this student resistance to result from the requirement for prior preparation, perceived as an increased workload. We advocate the incorporation of active learning strategies in lectures to support the development of students’ scientific skill–set and specifically advise the introduction of novel formats such as the quecture early in university level science education. 

Keywords: Active learning, interactive engagement, quecture, scientific skill-set, graduate attributes


Active learning; interactive engagement; quecture; scientific skill-set; graduate attributes

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New Directions in the Teaching of Natural Sciences

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