SPECIAL COLLOQUIUM: Taking a scientific approach to teaching and learning physics (and most other subjects)

Carl Wieman
Stanford University
Friday, January 12, 2018
2:00 pm
Calit2 Auditorium

*Special day / time / location

Guided by experimental tests of theory and practice, science has advanced rapidly in the past 500 years. Guided primarily by tradition and dogma, science education meanwhile has remained largely medieval. Research on how people learn and controlled comparisons of alternative teaching methods is now revealing much more effective ways to teach and evaluate learning than what is in use in the traditional science class. It makes much more use in the classroom of the instructor’s expertise, it is effective for a more diverse group of students, and it also shows students how to learn most effectively. This research is setting the stage for a new approach to teaching and learning that can provide the relevant and effective science education for all students that is needed for the 21st century. I will also cover more meaningful and effective ways to measure the quality of teaching. Although the focus of the talk is on undergraduate science and engineering teaching, where the data is the most compelling, the underlying principles come from studies of the general development of expertise and apply widely.



Carl Wieman holds a joint appointment as Professor of Physics and of the Graduate School of Education. He has done extensive experimental research in atomic and optical physics, and won the Nobel Prize in 2001. His current intellectual focus is now on undergraduate physics and science education. He has pioneered the use of experimental techniques to evaluate the effectiveness of various teaching strategies for physics and other sciences, and recently served as Associate Director for Science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.


Nobel Prize information:


James Bullock