educational situations can be defined as ‘spoon-feeding’
and it occurs most commonly in traditional lectures, small-group
teaching sessions or seminars when the teacher deliberately
provides the answers to students’ questions, etc. In short,
‘spoon-feeding’ is the situation where the teacher
acts as a knowledge dispenser for passive students. The teaching
here is centred on the teacher at the expense of the students’
Why is Spoon-Feeding So Popular?
The lecture is not the only learning situation where spoon-feeding
occurs, but it is the most common situation. That is why the
advantages and limitations of the lecture will be described
and discussed in this article.
- A lecture is short and needs little preparation, as the
lecturer is the expert in the field in which he teaches.
A ‘good’ lecture that has been prepared according
to the traditional rules and delivered by a ‘good’
lecturer is still considered one of the best teaching methods.
- Once a lecture is delivered, there is no need for lengthy
preparation for the following academic year, except the
need for some updates.
- Lectures are economic and cost effective because one
lecturer can deliver the course content to a large class,
up to several hundreds of students.
- Students like the traditional lecture because there is
no need for active effort. The only skills required are
to be able to take notes, memorise the information to be
regurgitated at the exam, and hopefully get the expected
marks. Therefore, this process is also economic and cost
effective for the students in terms of effort for information
- In most teaching situations, including lectures and other
spoon-feeding conditions, giving the answer to students’
questions is good for the teacher’s ego, as he is
perceived as the one who knows. In addition, the process
is quick and costs the teacher very little in terms of time
What are the Limitations of Spoon-Feeding?
- Spoon-feeding does not stimulate active participation
from the students and only fosters rote learning.
- Spoon-feeding does not promote independent learning and
- Students lack initiative and problem-solving skills because
they have not been trained to search for data by themselves.
Why is It So Difficult to Implement Active Learning
Methods in Higher Education?
Lecturers have learned to teach by observing their own teachers,
generation after generation, without formal training in educational
methods, thus teaching the way they were taught. Therefore,
most students have been exposed to the same widespread technique
of spoon-feeding, and have become totally dependent on the
lecturer to deliver information. Because of this tradition,
both students and lecturers would resist any major changes
in this habit.
To overcome this, seminars and workshops are necessary to
make students and lecturers aware of alternative methods of
active teaching and their respective advantages and limitations.
What are the Alternatives to Spoon-Feeding?
For the promoters of active learning, many teaching and
learning methods can supplement traditional lectures or the
tendency of lecturers to give the answers to students’
questions. The main paradigm shift here is to put responsibility
for learning on the students themselves and to ask lecturers
to train students to find the answers to their enquiries by
themselves, using learning resources like the library, electronic
databases, or the Internet. Therefore, the focus of teaching
is to train students to assess their own educational needs,
to search for relevant information, and to develop their own
critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Teaching methods that foster active learning, as opposed
to spoon-feeding are many and include interactive lectures,
small-group discussions, seminars, project work, problem-based