January 5, 2009

Eric Mazur: "Farewell, Lecture?"

Lecture, arguably, is the most common method of teaching in higher education. It is not uncommon to walk into any classroom and find students can be busy trying to keep notes on what their instructor is saying. In the latest issue of Science, Eric Mazur, a physics professor at Harvard University, offers his own perspective on how he made the shift from lecturing as the prime modality for teaching to a more student-centered approach.

Mazur explains how throughout his schooling the lecture method was the way students were taught. The reliance on lecturing continued, Mazur says, until he felt that the method was not the most effective and meaningful approach to teaching. Despite earning high evaluations from courses he taught, Mazur made significant changes in his classes. "The traditional approach to teaching reduces education to a transfer of information," Mazur says. He also describes how using what he calls the "clicker method" has allowed him to explore new pedagogical approaches in his courses.

Here are other quotes from "Farewell, Lecture?":

"My lecturing was ineffective, despite the high evaluations."

"The traditional approach to teaching reduces education to a transfer of information."

"The responsibility for gathering information now rests squarely on the shoulders of the students. They must read material before coming to class, so that class time can be devoted to discussions, peer interactions, and time to assimilate and think. Instead of teaching by telling, I am teaching by questioning."

"However, it is not the technology [clickers] but the pedagogy that matters."

Please read the brief article for yourself and share your thoughts and/or comments below (just click on the COMMENTS link).

Other "Clickers" resources include:
CTL's Clicker Resource page

Tom Haffie (University of Western Ontario) presents Clickers at Queens University (11/2006)

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