Quote of the day

This one comes from Carl Wieman who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 2001. I’ll start with a quote which gives the broader flavour of the paper:

[pg10] [we should] ‘approach the teaching of science like a science. That means applying to science teaching the practices that are essential components of scientific research and that explain why science has progressed at such a remarkable pace in the modern world.
The most important of these components are:
• Practices and conclusions based on objective data rather than—as is frequently the case in education—anecdote or tradition.This includes using the results of prior research, such as
work on how people learn.
• Disseminating results in a scholarly manner and copying and building upon what works. Too often in education, particularly at the postsecondary level, everything is reinvented, often in a highly flawed form, every time a different instructor teaches a course. (I call this problem “reinventing the square wheel.”)
• Fully utilizing modern technology. Just as we are always looking for ways to use technology to advance scientific research, we need to do the same in education.’
[I’m not sure I necessarily agree with the final point – I’d use technology when, and only when, that is beneficial to the student experience.]

Relative to this, the point I want to emphasise sounds timid:

[pg13] ‘Even the most thoughtful, dedicated teachers spend enormously more time worrying about their lectures than they do about their homework assignments, which I think is a mistake.’

But it is oh so true – certainly in my own institution, relative to the time and effort that goes into developing our (excellent) teaching resources, we put so little time and effort into getting assessment right. I think that’s a mistake! Your institution may be different of course, but I doubt that many are.

Wieman, C. (2010). Why not try a scientific approach to science education? Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 39(5), 9-15

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