One Teacher’s Epiphany


Harvard Magazine has a brilliant article about one professor’s epiphany about alternative teaching methods and thinking outside the box. As the article, written by Craig Lambert, explains, professor Eric Mazur was teaching a course when “a warning flag went up when one student raised her hand and asked, “How should I answer these questions—according to what you taught me, or how I usually think about these things?” To Mazur’s consternation, the simple test of conceptual understanding showed that his students had not grasped the basic ideas of his physics course: two-thirds of them were modern Aristotelians. “The students did well on textbook-style problems,” he explains. “They had a bag of tricks, formulas to apply. But that was solving problems by rote. They floundered on the simple word problems, which demanded a real understanding of the concepts behind the formulas.””

The article explains how Professor Mazur took this obstacle and worked with it to enhance student learning. As the article explains, “This innovative style of learning grew into “peer instruction” or “interactive learning,” a pedagogical method that has spread far beyond physics and taken root on campuses nationally. Last year, Mazur gave nearly 100 lectures on the subject at venues all around the world.”

Learn more by reading the full article at