Eric Mazur’s Teaching Method Featured in New York Times

Professor Eric Mazur (Disc 3 – guiding Light with Nanowires) is renowned not just for his group’s work in nanotech: he’s also at the forefront of new teaching methods that are improving the success rates of students.  According to this recent New York Times article, MIT has adopted Mazur’s techniques that make classes more interactive and engaging.  Instead of the traditional format, where a professor holds forth from the front of a cavernous lecture hall in front of hundreds of students, physics students at MIT now enjoy smaller classes, and work in small networked clusters.  An excerpt of the article appears below:

The traditional 50-minute lecture was geared more toward physics majors, said Eric Mazur, a physicist at Harvard who is a pioneer of the new approach, and whose work has influenced the change at M.I.T.

“The people who wanted to understand,” Professor Mazur said, “had the discipline, the urge, to sit down afterwards and say, ‘Let me figure this out.’ ” But for the majority, he said, a different approach is needed.

“Just as you can’t become a marathon runner by watching marathons on TV,” Professor Mazur said, “likewise for science, you have to go through the thought processes of doing science and not just watch your instructor do it.”

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