Traditional Instruction vs “Deliberate Practice” (Part 1)

The Latest Cark Weiman study
Summary: “Science” just published (May 13, 2011) a fascinating article:  Improved Learning in a Large Enrollment Physics Class, Louis Deslauriers, Ellen Schelew, and Carl Wieman
Carl is a Physics Noble prize winner, now working in science education.  The article is on an experiment they did in physics education.
They waited until week 12 in a traditional lecture course, and then changed 1 week of class sessions. They used what they called “deliberate practice”, meaning: posing good application problems for students, letting them see if they could solve them individually, recording their answers with “clickers”, talking about their answers with 1-2 other students, and getting immediate feedback from the teacher.
With just 3 days of those changes, they had the following impact in the experimental groups:

  • attendance went up 20%
  • student engagement went up 100%
  • student performance on tests was better (2.5X)
  • when students were later asked if they liked these changes and thought they would learn more if they were used in the whole course, said in essence: “Of course!”

This has resulted in fascinating discussion in the HETL group on LinkedIn and following a Chronicle article with an appalling and inflammatory title:  “Postdocs Can Be Trained to Be More Effective Than Senior Instructors, Study Finds,”

Two other different coverages in the press:

www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/2011/05/12/interactive-teaching-methods-double-learning-engagement-in-large-undergraduate-physics-class/

www.nzherald.co.nz/the-changing-world/news/article.cfm?c_id=1502962&objectid=10725393

The article itself is three pages, has 12 references and comes with 26 pages of supporting material and detail (only online, not in the printed journal).

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