Introduction to Peer Instruction, at Physics and Astronomy New Faculty Workshop (Greenbelt, MD), Thursday, November 17, 2011:
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
Peer Instruction Practical Details, at Physics and Astronomy New Faculty Workshop (Greenbelt, MD), Thursday, November 17, 2011:
The basic goals of Peer Instruction are to encourage and make use of student interaction during lectures, while focusing students' attention on underlying concepts and techniques. The method has been assessed in many studies using standardized, diagnostic tests and shown to be considerably more effective than the conventional lecture approach to teaching. Peer Instruction is now used in a wide range of science and math courses at the college and secondary level. In this 2-3 hour long workshop, participants will learn about Peer Instruction, serve as the "class" in which Peer Instruction is... Read more about Peer Instruction Practical Details
Memorization or understanding: are we teaching the right thing?, at Physics Department Colloquium, Queen's University (Kingston, ON, Canada), Friday, November 11, 2011:
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?
Stopping time, at Cave Memorial Lecture, Queen's University (Kingston, ON, Canada), Thursday, November 10, 2011:
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 review... Read more about Stopping time
Educating the Innovators of the 21st Century, at Program on Innovative Teaching and Learning in Chile, Harvard University: LASPAU (Cambridge, MA, USA), Wednesday, November 9, 2011:
Can we teach innovation? Innovation requires whole-brain thinking — left-brain thinking for creativity and imagination, and right-brain thinking for planning and execution. Our current approach to education in science and technology, focuses on the transfer of information, developing mostly right-brain thinking by stressing copying and reproducing existing ideas rather than generating new ones. I will show how shifting the focus in lectures from delivering information to team work and creative thinking greatly improves the learning that takes place in the classroom and promotes independent... Read more about Educating the Innovators of the 21st Century
Manipulating Matter with Ultrashort Laser Pulses, at Wednesday Night Research Seminar, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA), Wednesday, November 9, 2011:
When femtosecond laser pulses are focused tightly into a transparent material, the intensity in the focal volume can become high enough to cause nonlinear absorption of laser energy. The absorption, in turn, can lead to permanent structural or chemical changes. Such changes can be used for micromachining bulk transparent materials. Applications include data storage and the writing of waveguides and waveguide splitters in bulk glass, fabrication of micromechanical devices in polymers, and subcellular photodisruption inside single cells. In this talk we will review recent results obtained in... Read more about Manipulating Matter with Ultrashort Laser Pulses
Interactive Learning: Technology in the Classroom, at HKS Faculty Discussion on Pedagogy, Harvard Kennedy School (Cambridge, MA), Tuesday, November 8, 2011:
Most -- if not all -- of the important skills in our life are acquired outside the traditional classroom setting. Yet we continue to teach using lectures where students passively take down information. Instead, we should really focus on the assimilation of that information and shift the focus from teaching to helping students learn. Over the past 20 years, instructors world-wide have begun to adopt Peer Instruction to get students to think in class. With the advent of new technology the process can be significantly improved. A new data-analytics driven audience response system does away with... Read more about Interactive Learning: Technology in the Classroom
From Student Readiness to Succeed to Student Success in College, at Program for Innovative Teaching in Chilean Higher Education a, LASPAU-Affliated with Harvard University (Cambridge, MA), Friday, November 4, 2011:
Improving student success is one of the most pressing issues in higher education across the world. Too often, despite succeed in secondary classrooms, students are entering college underprepared to engage in the rigors of undergraduate study, which results in a number of consequences for institutions. High drop out, failure, and withdrawal rates limit students’ abilities to take full advantage of their college experience and reach their highest potential. Failing to intervene in the success problem has substantial cost implications for institutions, instructors, and societies within which... Read more about From Student Readiness to Succeed to Student Success in College