• xTalks: Digital Discourses

The xTalks series provides a forum to facilitate awareness, deep understanding and transference of educational innovations at MIT and elsewhere. We hope to foster a community of educators, researchers, and technologists engaged in developing and supporting effective learning experiences through online learning environments and other digital technologies. To sign up for the xTalks mailing list, click here.

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Increasing Learning, Engagement, & Personal Interest: A Research-Based Transformation of a Large Intro Physics Course for Life Science Majors

Logan McCarty & Louis DesLauriers

In the fall of 2014, Logan McCarty and Louis Deslauriers transformed the lecture portion of their Harvard University Physics course based on research in cognitive psychology and physics education. During class, small groups of students practiced physicist-like reasoning and problem solving, receiving constant feedback from peers, instructors, and TFs, followed by short, targeted lectures. A direct comparison of student performance to previous classes showed the transformed course had a normalized gain of over 20%, including a substantial increase in the number of high performers and a large decrease in the failure rate. The transformed course also showed improved student course evaluations as well increase in their expert attitudes.  McCarty and Deslauriers will discuss the implications of these results.