Seminars vs Lectures in the battle for your education

What is driving students for preference to seminars rather than lectures?

multiple writers
1st November 2022
Image Credit: Flickr
Don’t get me wrong, lectures are great for dishing out large quantities of content in a short space of time, and they’re perfect for when you’re feeling a bit hungover and can’t find the strength to contribute, let alone the will to live, but oh, I have to talk about sweet sweet seminars.

Assuming that years of university haven’t stripped you of your passion for your chosen degree, and that you like your lecturers, seminars can be described as nothing else but safe places where ideas go to thrive. They give you space to develop your understanding of niche topics, clarification on the most convoluted of theories, and the chance to debate with your course mates.

But [seminars] offer invaluable communication skills.

Not only do seminars prepare you to write essays and get good marks at university, but they also offer invaluable communication skills that can be used in other fields of life, like in conversations with friends, in the workplace and with people that you might not necessarily like or share the same opinions with (although it might sound basic, more people than you’d think seem incapable of having respectful, balanced discussions…). 

But after analysing whether Latin American governments are implementing effective policies for the survival of indigenous languages in your last seminar, you’ve got the whole knowing how to talk to someone who doesn’t agree with you thing covered.

So, sorry lectures, you’ve got nothing on seminars.

Elsa Tarring

Seminars and lecturers are the ying and yang for students, but I think it's pretty clear students have a favourite.

Most students that I know would say seminars, and so would I. Is it that we prefer seminars because of the approach to learning, in workshops involving more interactivity? Or is it the ability to whisper to your classmate, “Did you understand that?”, instead of the embarrassment of announcing your struggles to the entire group. 

We need communication and support

Before university, I’d never experienced the environment of a lecture or a seminar. If anything, seminars are the closest in relation to previous methods of teaching I’ve experienced. Being able to interact with each other and gain a deeper understanding, really dispels any signs of discomfort or feelings of isolation commonly felt when moving to university. For many students, lectures are a new method of learning and can be an overwhelming adjustment. When covering new material sometimes it’s nicer to be able to chat with your module leaders, rather than silently panicking whilst staring at a presentation that reads as gibberish in a lecture. A lot of us need that reassurance and praise, or at least I do. 

I spoke to one of my module leaders about writing this article, genuinely unsure on why most of us do prefer seminars. But, I got my answers from simply asking the question itself. We need communication and support. Simply knowing that it’s normal to not know everything immediately. That we’re doing okay. Everyone’s in the same boat. Confusion is a key aspect to learning. Or at least, I tell myself it is.

Libby Griffiths

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