Confessions of a converted lecturer

Presentation Date: 

Friday, April 2, 2010


2nd Annual DTI Spring Conference, Community College of Denver (Denver, CO)

Presentation Slides: 

Almost 20 years ago, Harvard physicist Eric Mazur had an “aha” moment about his teaching practice that forced him to rethink the traditional unidirectional teaching model. Mazur described his early approach to courses as “not how you teach it, but what you cover. I realized education was not merely a transfer of information. It was about how well students could assimilate information and transfer it to their own experience.” Mazur decided to radically change his teaching methods by punctuating short lectures with questions back to the students. After students have thought about and responded to these more conceptual problems, he invites them to convince each other of their position.

His peer education model reinforces correct responses and students are in a better position to convince each other. Their shared unfamiliarity with the subject allows them to more readily anticipate whatever barriers to understanding they might encounter from their peers. Mazur said this call/response form of teaching also allows for a “continuous assessment and feedback. You know if you need to continue or move on.”

Although he acknowledged that this form of teaching requires experience to formulate good questions and gauge where trouble spots might be, based on students’ responses, Mazur remains committed to this more interactive model and will demonstrate his method with the audience.