Interactive Teaching: Turning a Large Lecture into a Seminar

Presentation Date: 

Friday, June 16, 2006


Symposium on Technology in Undergraduate Education, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA 02138)

Presentation Slides: 

Education is more than just transfer of information, yet that is mostly what happens in large introductory courses -- instructors present material and students take down as many notes as they can. This format tends to reinforce the idea that learning is about acquiring information rather than gaining new ways of thinking. In undergraduate science, however, learning consists primarily of developing new thinking skills; this mismatch between instruction and learning leads to students misunderstanding what science is, as well as frustration for both students and instructors. The problem has a relatively simple solution: shift the focus in lectures from delivering information to coaching students in the way of thinking we call physics. This talk will present one approach to lecturing that accomplishes this change in focus, which we call Peer Instruction, discuss evidence for its effectiveness and the role of technology in its implementation.

Video of presentation