Seminar: Confessions of a Converted Lecturer

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - 12:00pm EDT

  • Location:Dibner Building, Pfizer Auditorium
    Five MetroTech Center, Brooklyn, New York, US

Presented By: Eric Mazur, Prof. of Physics and Applied Physics, Harvard University

I thought I was a good teacher until I discovered my students were just memorizing information rather than learning to understand the material. Who was to blame? The students? The material? I will explain how I came to the agonizing conclusion that the culprit was neither of these. It was my teaching that caused students to fail! I will show how I have adjusted my approach to teaching and how it has improved my students' performance significantly.

Probably the best presentation on teaching I've ever listened to — anonymous evaluation


Eric Mazur is the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University. An internationally recognized scientist and researcher, he leads a vigorous research program in optical physics and supervises one of the largest research groups in the Physics Department at Harvard University.

In addition to his work in optical physics, Dr. Mazur is interested in education, science policy, outreach, and the public perception of science. He believes that better science education for all -- not just science majors -- is vital for continued scientific progress. To this end, Dr. Mazur devotes part of his research group's effort to education research and finding verifiable ways to improve science education. In 1990 he began developing Peer Instruction a method for teaching large lecture classes interactively. Dr. Mazur's teaching method has developed a large following, both nationally and internationally, and has been adopted across many science disciplines.

Dr. Mazur is author or co-author of 217 scientific publications and 12 patents. He has also written on education and is the author of Peer Instruction: A User's Manual (Prentice Hall, 1997), a book that explains how to teach large lecture classes interactively. In 2006 he helped produce the award-winning DVD Interactive Teaching.