Why do students still bother to come to lectures?

Jill Morris from the University of Sydney will address this question and talk about preparing students for engagement in the modern research environment at a seminar on 28 September.

The seminar, organised by the Bioscience Education Research Group, Faculty of Biological Sciences, and hosted by Neil Morris, will focus on:


With the recent emergence of an extensive range of online resources: everything from electronic lecture notes, slides, mp3 podcasts to the fully-downloadable recorded lecture with coordinated audio and visual images, the obvious question is: "Why do students still bother to come to lectures?"

To explore this question, a preliminary survey was carried out within junior, intermediate and senior courses taught by the School of Molecular Bioscience at the University of Sydney during the second semester in  2009. This simple voluntary survey, which was mounted on the LMS, had two simple questions, each of which allowed both constrained and open responses:

  • Do you attend lectures?
  • How would you feel if there were no face-to-face lectures and lectures were only available online?

Of those students who responded to the survey, the overwhelming majority, surprisingly, attended most lectures. For a voluntary on-line survey which was only accessible over a two-week period, the response rate was very encouraging. Most respondents also submitted abundant, enthusiastic free-form comments. The students were keen to give their opinion; many of the comments contained more than one reason for their attendance pattern. Because of this, the results (both numerical data and comments) provide a rich resource of student opinion for analysis.


Laboratory notebooks have been the gold standard for the recording of experimental data and observations for as long as formal science has been practised.

Within the School of Molecular Bioscience at the University of Sydney, students are trained in the practice of accurate notebook keeping through instruction, regular feedback and formal assessment. Directions and assessment criteria follow carefully IP Australia's guidelines and enforce a culture of good record keeping with the traditional laboratory notebook.

However, the ever-increasing prevalence of electronic documentation both in the University-based research labs and in industry, in the form of the electronic notebook, has meant that our extensive efforts to foster traditional paper-based record keeping may not be preparing graduates for future positions in industry or research labs.

Systems to implement an eNotebook system in order to help students better prepare for their future engagement with the professional scientific community, and how to achieve this in a way which is both economically and administratively feasible, are being explored. Preliminary work has also led to reflection on ways in which the eNotebook could be used to bring changes to the way we run our practical classes.

The seminar will take place:

On:  Wednesday 28 September 2011

At:   1-2pm

In:   Garstang Seminar Room, 7.52

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