ABSTRACT: Sara Rimer's New York Times report "At M.I.T., Large Lectures Are Going the Way of the Blackboard" concerning John Belcher's "Technology-Enabled Active Learning" (TEAL) program has received widespread attention (about 30,000 hits on Google).
Recently, guest blogger Diana Senechal (2009) in her provocative post "What's with those clickers in physics class?" criticized TEAL on the basis of (a) comments published in the NYT by a few disaffected MIT students, and (b) her own preference for lectures over what she perceived as "group buzz, multiple-choice problems, and clickers."
Similarly, Margaret Harris' PhysicsWorld criticism of TEAL relied primarily on the comments of a few disgruntled MIT students. But neither student comments nor one's own preferences provide valid gauges of the cognitive (as opposed to the *affective*) impact of a course on the average student. As repeatedly emphasized, the cognitive impact of a course is best gauged by pre-to-postest normalized gains on valid and consistently reliable tests developed through arduous quantitative and qualitative research by disciplinary experts.
Although this idea is gradually gaining traction in undergraduate astronomy, biology, chemistry, economics, geoscience, engineering, calculus, and physics, most of academia has turned a deaf ear. But similar ideas, independently suggested by physics Nobelist Carl Wieman (2005) may attract more attention.
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Hake, R.R. 2009. “At M.I.T., Large Lectures Are Going the Way of the Blackboard - REDUX #2,” online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at http://tinyurl.com/kqfpxy. Post of 13 Sep 2009 08:31:05-0700 to AERA-L, Net-Gold, and PhysLrnR.