Descriptions of graduate (and advanced undergrad) courses sometimes indicate that the lectures are going to be conducted in a "workshop style". I am unsure what a "workshop style" lecture entails and how it is usually conducted over a two hour span?

How does a workshop-style lecture differ from formal lectures?

  • @paulgarrett Can you please turn this into an answer so that I can vote for it?
    – jakebeal
    Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 5:24
  • @jakebeal, converted comment to answer... Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 15:57

2 Answers 2


In my experience, "workshop-style lecture" is an oxymoron. A person leading a workshop might speak for a while, introducing a concept or process, but then the focus would shift to the students, who actually do something (write, brainstorm, etc.) and then discuss their experiences. A student will leave a workshop having worked on something, either individually or with a group, rather than just having taken notes.


Workshop "lectures" are less logically formal, less detail-oriented (but usually with careful references). The idea of a workshop is more top-down, more action-oriented, intended to get people up-to-speed on the current state of a topic (rather than, cough-cough, compliance-oriented). Examples, heuristics, prototypes, thought-experiments... more of the things we actually do, rather than the formal narrative reporting on it later and not-as-though-it-were-live.

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