Smarter Approach to Teaching Science

"As a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Carl Wieman could probably get away with being a mediocre teacher. Yet he’s devoted much of his career to improving the ways colleges and universities teach science, in his own classrooms and in one of the grandest experiments of his life: the multicampus Science Education Initiative.

Wieman’s new book chronicles the latter effort and makes a strong, evidence-based case for pursuing broad changes in science instruction: out with lectures and in with active learning. It’s also an easily digested how-to guide for interested parties, including deans, department chairs and other faculty members. The project has major implications for administrators, too. Spoiler alert: if institutions want better science teaching, they have to value it alongside research.

'The Science Education Initiative showed that it is possible for large, research-intensive science departments to make major changes in their teaching,' says Wieman, a professor of physics and education at Stanford University. 'Most faculty adopted innovative research-based methods, and as a result experienced teaching as a far more rewarding activity than they had found it to be using traditional lectures. Their students attend class more and are far more interested in learning the subjects and benefiting from instructors’ expertise.'”

Read the full article from Colleen Flaherty at Inside Higher Ed and check out Wieman's new book, coming soon to the DCAL Library in Baker 102.