More than 8,000 physicians teach internal medicine in medical schools in the United States. Thousands of other internists are involved in educational programs for colleagues, paramedical personnel, and the public. Most physicians prefer the lecture method of instruction,1 but learning from lectures can be a difficult task for many persons. Several variables are known to facilitate or hinder retention of lecture materials. These include the format of note-taking by students, the amount of material discussed, the time within the lecture when information is presented, and the use of visual aids. The following paragraphs summarize the recent literature pertinent to these four variables and list some practical guidelines for the presentation of medical lectures.
It is believed by some medical educators that providing lengthy handouts is "spoonfeeding" the student. They contend that students become intellectually passive and fail to pay attention in class when the detail of the handout eliminates