Nobel Prize Winner vs TA With a Clicker? Who Wins the Teaching Award?
If you guessed the Nobel Prize winning physicist, you guessed wrong. In a fantastic new study, it turned out the way students in a 250-person lecture class really learned the nitty gritty of the physics was not when the famous scientist lectured at them but when the TA engaged them with a clicker.
This is music to my student-designed, peer-assigned, peer-assessed, interactive ears! Here’s the url to the article that describes the study: http://www.boston.com/news/science/articles/2011/05/12/study_its_not_tea…
All the research shows that the best way to learn is to teach, and the best way to teach learning and how to learn is by having students actively engaged in what they are doing. Lecturing every day to a class is probably the least effective form of conveying information, knowledge, and critical thinking skills that we know. That’s true whether it is a Shakespeare class or a physics class. Even when students are entertained by a great lecturer, they don’t take away much of what they hear and they don’t have much of any skill at applying it elsewhere. A well designed test helps (we know good testing–not item response but real-time, integrated, thoughtful testing–helps to categorize, coalesce, and reinforce learning) but, in general, the hierarchical form of the lecture relieves the hearer of having to do much more than be entertained . . . and that means only a small amount spills over into actual, idea-development, knowledge-acquisition, applicable-beyond-the-lecture-hall engaged learning.