Qualitative versus quantitative reasoning: Are we teaching the right thing?


For the past eight years I have been teaching an introductory physics course for engineering and science concentrators at Harvard University. Teaching this class, which does not include any physics majors, is a challenging experience because the students take this course as a concentration requirement, not because of a genuine interest in physics. At the same time it can be a very rewarding experience when, at the end of the semester, students show much more appreciation for the subject matter. I used to teach a fairly traditional course in an equally traditional lecture-type of presentation, enlivened by classroom demonstrations. I was generally satisfied with my teaching during these years my students did well on what I considered pretty difficult problems and the feedback I received from them was positive. About a year ago, however, I came across a series of articles by David Hestenes of Arizona State University, which completely and permanently changed my views on teaching.
See also: Other education
Last updated on 07/24/2019