January 13, 2009

Follow-up on the last post

I don't want anyone to get the idea that I necessarily favor the old lecture model over the new bite-size lecture model. I just don't see much of a difference. At least for introductory physics.

If anything, the new model has some potential advantages in keeping students fully engaged during class. This advantage is contingent upon the student being capable of being kept engaged during class which requires that the student prepare for class by reading and thinking about the material beforehand. This is not something the non-physics M.I.T students are willing to do, at least according to the article.

I jut don't see how an unprepared student can effectively participate in a problem solving activity with only a few minutes of teacher talk.

Here's a good example of what I'm talking about. Projectile motion is one of the first and easiest topic in introductory physics. See if you can read the explanation and then see if you can solve the problems in real time. Now go find five friends who don't know Physics and see if it helps when you try together. The example provides a good introductory explanation. I'm sure someone knowledgeable in Physics, like a grad student, would help out a bit. But, I'm thinking that it would be a lot more helpful, if you were presented the initial explanation first, then you were given a few hours to wrap your head around the material and try your hand at solving a few problems. Then you would know exactly what you knew and what you need more help with. That's when the grad student comes in handy. And, that's why the traditional way Physics is taught works well for those that do the work. It also tells us that there is no shortcuts no matter what M.I.T and the NYT wants you to believe.

1 comment:

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