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AAPT Summer 2008 Introduction of the TEAL (Technology Enabled Active Learning) Format at MIT John W. Belcher Kavli Center for Astrophysics and Space Research.

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Presentation on theme: "AAPT Summer 2008 Introduction of the TEAL (Technology Enabled Active Learning) Format at MIT John W. Belcher Kavli Center for Astrophysics and Space Research."— Presentation transcript:

1 AAPT Summer 2008 Introduction of the TEAL (Technology Enabled Active Learning) Format at MIT John W. Belcher Kavli Center for Astrophysics and Space Research Department of Physics

2 AAPT Summer 2008 One of the two MIT TEAL Classrooms Modeled after NCSU’s SCALE-UP Classroom

3 AAPT Summer 2008

4 Ideal TEAL Sequence (instructor’s fantasy) 1.Instruction (aka Lecture) 2.Pre-Experiment Predictions 3.Experiment 4.Visualization of Experiment I will illustrate this sequence for Faraday’s Law

5 AAPT Summer 2008 Magnetic Flux Move down 1. Instruction: Faraday’s Law

6 AAPT Summer 2008 Magnetic Flux Move down 2. Pre-Experiment Predictions Personal Response System used for pre-experiment questions and responses

7 AAPT Summer Experiment Experiment includes sliding an aluminum sleeve over the magnet and feeling the slowdown due to eddy currents

8 AAPT Summer Visualization of Experiment  Show a virtual model of the real experiment  Add field representation  Show the field three ways:  Vector Field Grid  Field Lines  Line Integral Convolution

9 AAPT Summer 2008 Motivations for Change Long standing dissatisfaction with high failure rate in freshman physics at the level of the Provost and the MIT Corporation Physics faculty frustrated by poor student attendance in lectures and recitation Even spectacular lecturers, e.g. Walter Lewin, only pulled in 50% attendance on average. No laboratories in main line courses for over 30 years.

10 AAPT Summer 2008 Frustration: Belcher as Lecturer Professor John Belcher is highly praised by most of his 8.02 students. "He was one of the best professors I have had here -- interesting, relevant, and a good teacher. He is funny too!" Three students claim: "Everything about him is effective." Over half the class remarks on his "awesome board technique," noting especially his excellent use of colored chalk to keep diagrams clear, and respondents refer to his in-class experiments as "awesome demos." Belcher also receives high marks for his ability to explain concepts clearly, for the outlines he uses in lectures, and for his reviews of previous lectures. Most class members praise his attitude toward teaching and toward his students: "He definitely knows how to teach," and "He cares about his students." One individual states that Belcher is "phenomenal in his organization." Another student writes: "Belcher obviously prepares his lectures ahead of time and is the best professor I have had yet. He makes it a point to be structured and organized." Still only 40%-50% attendance on average, 12% failure rate! I swore I would never lecture a large course again.

11 AAPT Summer 2008 Importance of External Examples MIT would never have done this without RPI’s Studio Physics and NSCU’s Scale-Up as examples of alternate models, esp. Scale-Up In 1990 I was collaborating with Bob Beichner on a DUE CCLI visualization grant NSF asked me to find a PER researcher to work with as a condition for giving me the grant. I visited NCSU and Bob visited MIT and gave a talk on Scale-Up to an audience that included the then Chair of the MIT Faculty

12 AAPT Summer 2008 Opportunities for Change In the late nineties MIT had ~$35 million available for education innovation. These were not endowment gifts, this money was to be spent down over the course of 5-7 years. Money openly competed at MIT, money independent of departmental budget, although at the end of five years the development money went away and the department had to assume support. Many projects supported, including TEAL. A senior physics faculty member (me) who had a stellar reputation in the department as a lecturer in the freshman electromagnetism course was willing to lead the effort. Co-leader was Dr. Peter Dourmashkin, a lecturer in the department with a similar stellar reputation as an educator (Peter is also associate director of an alternate freshman program, the Experimental Study Group).

13 AAPT Summer 2008 Implementation Mostly following Scale-Up, with elements of Mazur’s Peer Instruction. Added emphasis on visualizations in E&M Taught twice in prototype to 150 students before moving to large scale 700 student course in Spring 2003 in electromagnetism. Prototype classes were well received by students Unfortunately this favorable student reception changed with the move to the large scale in Spring 2003.

14 AAPT Summer 2008

15 Start Up Problems in Moving to Large Scale Not enough training of faculty new to the method We had too many in-class experiments Lots of material on web, but too disorganized Student culture was highly resistant (and still is) to coming to class

16 AAPT Summer 2008 Importance of Assessment We had enough resources to have a full time assessment professional, Professor Judy Dori of the Department of Education in Technology and Science at the Technion Dori planned the assessment, developed the pre/post test for electromagnetism in conjunction with physics faculty, and published the summative assessment and a later longitudinal study in peer- reviewed journals.

17 AAPT Summer 2008 Importance of Assessment (continued) I cannot over-emphasize the importance of a professional assessment effort We had a solid assessment showing a factor of two increase in learning gains over lecture recitation when we went to the large scale Because of the start-up problems and the negative student reaction, the entire project would have foundered without these assessment results.

18 AAPT Summer 2008 Assessment Assessment led by Professor Judy Yehudit Dori of the Department of Education in Technology and Science at the Technion. Professor Dori is an internationally known educator whose expertise is the assessment of learning strategies in science and technology education We used a variety of assessment techniques, including the traditional in-class exams, focus groups, questionnaires (in addition to MIT’s CEG questionnaire), and pre and post testing.

19 AAPT Summer 2008 Pre/Post Conceptual Test Scores N students = 121 Experimental group - Fall 2001Control group - Spring 2002 N students = 176

20 AAPT Summer 2008 Study Limitations 1.Attendance monitored In Experimental Group, not in Control Group. At end of term, 50% in Control, 80% in Experimental. 2.Demographics of Control and Experimental Groups different (not true in Spring 2003 comparison) 3.Experimental Group used a mix of both analytic and conceptual problems in class, Control primarily analytic. 4.Control Group pre- and post-tests volunteer basis; Experimental Group tests counted toward course grade. 5.“Teach To Test” in Experimental Group? Hawthorne Effect?

21 AAPT Summer 2008 Why are the CEG Rankings Lower? 1/3 rd of respondents not previously present

22 AAPT Summer 2008 Long Term Outlook Startup problems fixed in subsequent years, many fewer experiments, faculty better trained Students still unhappy with having to come to class Physics is different from every other MIT General Institute Requirement freshman course, which still typically have 50% attendance or less (biology, chemistry, math).

23 AAPT Summer 2008 Long Term Outlook (continued) Some physics faculty criticize the lack of ability to lecture at length with multiple boards in the TEAL rooms, leading (in this view) to students not coming to a synthesis of the material, and hindering the intellectual depth of the course. Other physics faculty feel that the TEAL combination of instruction, engagement, and experiment, are the ideal way to reveal the beauty of physics, and expand the intellectual depth of the course. Both sides feel that students coming to class is generally a good thing

24 AAPT Summer 2008 Long Term Outlook (continued) Some physics faculty extremely enthusiastic about the approach. Tend to be younger. Many faculty have trouble adopting to the environment, in practice we still have a lot of long stretches of lecturing. Adequate faculty training is the most important thing you can do if you are considering moving to a more interactive environment.

25 AAPT Summer 2008 Long Term Outlook (continued) The Department has recently done a review of where we are after 8 years of TEAL Although there are still strong opinions in the Department about the optimal way to teach freshman…. There is a general consensus that with the advent of TEAL has resulted in substantially larger resources going into freshman physics and the Department paying a lot more attention to its effectiveness Which is universally seen as a positive outcome.


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