2008

How the mind tricks us: visualizations and visual illusions, at Phi Beta Kappa Public Lecture, University of Tennessee (Knoxville, TN), Thursday, April 3, 2008:
Neurobiology and cognitive psychology have made great progress in understanding how the mind processes information – in particular visual information. The knowledge we can gain from these fields has important implications for the presentation of visual information and student learning
Memorization or understanding: are we teaching the right thing?, at NCLT Faculty Workshop on Nanoscale Science & Engineering Education, Alabama A&M University (Huntsville, AL), Friday, March 28, 2008
Education is more than just transfer of information, yet that is what is mostly done in large introductory courses -- instructors present material (even though this material might be readily available in printed form) and for students the main purpose of lectures is to take down as many notes as they can. Few students have the ability, motivation, and discipline to synthesize all the information delivered to them. Yet synthesis is perhaps the most important -- and most elusive -- aspect of education. I will show how shifting the focus in lectures from delivering information to synthesizing... Read more about Memorization or understanding: are we teaching the right thing?
Wrapping light around a hair, at NCLT Faculty Workshop on Nanoscale Science & Engineering Education, Alabama A&M University (Huntsville, AL), Thursday, March 27, 2008:
Can light be guided by a fiber whose diameter is much smaller than the wavelength of the light? Can we mold the flow of light on the micrometer scale so it wraps, say, around a hair? Until recently the answer to these questions was ‘no’. We developed a technique for drawing long, free-standing silica wires with diameters down to 50 nm that have a surface smoothness at the atomic level and a high uniformity of diameter. Light can be launched into these silica nanowires by optical evanescent coupling and the wires allow low-loss single-mode operation. They can be bent sharply, making it... Read more about Wrapping light around a hair
Confessions of a converted lecturer, at Harvard Neighbors Winter Lecture, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA), Wednesday, March 19, 2008
I thought I was a good teacher until I discovered my students were just memorizing information rather than learning to understand the material. Who was to blame? The students? The material? I will explain how I came to the agonizing conclusion that the culprit was neither of these. It was my teaching that caused students to fail! I will show how I have adjusted my approach to teaching and how it has improved my students' performance significantly
Confessions of a converted lecturer, at Teaching Innovation Program, University of Mary Washington (Fredericksburg, VA), Thursday, March 13, 2008:
I thought I was a good teacher until I discovered my students were just memorizing information rather than learning to understand the material. Who was to blame? The students? The material? I will explain how I came to the agonizing conclusion that the culprit was neither of these. It was my teaching that caused students to fail! I will show how I have adjusted my approach to teaching and how it has improved my students' performance significantly
Time, Space, and Optical Physics, at the General Education Elementary Astronomy Class, University of Mary Washington (Fredericksburg, VA), Thursday, March 13, 2008:
Time is of philosophical interest as well as the subject of mathematical and scientific research. Even though it is a concept familiar to most, the passage of time remains one of the greatest enigmas of the universe. The philosopher Augustine once said: "What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks me, I do not know." The concept time indeed cannot be explained in simple terms. Emotions, life, and death - all are related to our interpretation of the irreversible flow of time. After a discussion of the concept of time, we will show the... Read more about Time, Space, and Optical Physics
How the mind tricks us: visualizations and visual illusions, at Phi Beta Kappa Lecture Visiting Scholar Lecture, University of Mary Washington (Fredericksburg, VA), Wednesday, March 12, 2008:
Neurobiology and cognitive psychology have made great progress in understanding how the mind processes information – in particular visual information. The knowledge we can gain from these fields has important implications for the presentation of visual information and student learning
Wrapping light around a hair, at Physics & Astronomy Department Colloquium, University of Delaware (Newark, DE), Tuesday, March 11, 2008:
Can light be guided by a fiber whose diameter is much smaller than the wavelength of the light? Can we mold the flow of light on the micrometer scale so it wraps, say, around a hair? Until recently the answer to these questions was ‘no’. We developed a technique for drawing long, free-standing silica wires with diameters down to 50 nm that have a surface smoothness at the atomic level and a high uniformity of diameter. Light can be launched into these silica nanowires by optical evanescent coupling and the wires allow low-loss single-mode operation. They can be bent sharply, making it... Read more about Wrapping light around a hair
How the mind tricks us: visualizations and visual illusions, at Phi Beta Kappa Lecture, University of Delaware (Newark, DE), Monday, March 10, 2008:
Neurobiology and cognitive psychology have made great progress in understanding how the mind processes information – in particular visual information. The knowledge we can gain from these fields has important implications for the presentation of visual information and student learning.
Memorization or understanding: are we teaching the right thing?, at Phi Beta Kappa Lecture Visiting Scholar Lecture, University of Delaware (Newark, DE), Monday, March 10, 2008:
Education is more than just transfer of information, yet that is what is mostly done in large introductory courses -- instructors present material (even though this material might be readily available in printed form) and for students the main purpose of lectures is to take down as many notes as they can. Few students have the ability, motivation, and discipline to synthesize all the information delivered to them. Yet synthesis is perhaps the most important -- and most elusive -- aspect of education. I will show how shifting the focus in lectures from delivering information to synthesizing... Read more about Memorization or understanding: are we teaching the right thing?

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