© UnknownA Canadian study found college students learned more from teaching assistants using interactive tools than they did from a veteran professor giving a traditional lecture.
Who is better at teaching difficult physics to a class of more than 250 college students: the highly rated veteran professor using time-tested lecturing, or the inexperienced graduate students interacting with students via devices that look like TV remotes? The answer could rattle ivy on college walls.
A study by a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, now a science adviser to President Barack Obama, suggests that how you teach is more important than who does the teaching.
He found that in nearly identical classes, Canadian college students learned a lot more from teaching assistants using interactive tools than they did from a veteran professor giving a traditional lecture. The students who had to engage interactively using the TV remote-like devices scored about twice as high on a test compared to those who heard the normal lecture, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science
The interactive method had almost no lecturing. It involved short, small-group discussions, in-class "clicker" quizzes, demonstrations and question-answer sessions. The teachers got real-time graphic feedback on what the students were learning and what they weren't getting.
"It's really what's going on in the students' minds rather than who is instructing them," said lead researcher Carl Wieman of the University of British Columbia, who shared a Nobel physics prize in 2001. "This is clearly more effective learning. Everybody should be doing this. ... You're practising bad teaching if you are not doing this."