AeroAstro Annual 1
Annual Report 2003-2004
In 1996, the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics faculty participated in a strategic planning process, which culminated in adoption of a for- mal strategic plan for the department in 1998. One of the plan’s education- al thrusts, which we called “Learning-Based Education,” was intended to improve the effectiveness of our teaching. The plan called for the depart- ment to gain a better understand- ing of current scholarly work on learning, especially the learning of science and technology, and to use our improved understanding of learning as a basis for improving our educational process and infrastructure. The plan led us to adopt active learning techniques in many subjects. Active learning is defined as those teaching techniques that stress students’ active involvement in their own 29 Teaching by Questioning by Steven R. Hall TEACHING BY QUESTIONING I began to rethink how I was teaching and realized that students were deriving little benefit from my lectures even though they generally gave me high marks as a lec- turer. So I decided to stop preaching and instead of teaching by telling, I switched to teaching by questioning using a teaching tech- nique I have named “peer instruction.” I have been lecturing like this now for four years. During this time the stu- dents have taught me how best to teach them. As one student said in a recent interview, "There is the ah-ha! kind of feeling. It's not that someone just told me; I actually figured it out. And because I can figure it out now, that means I can figure it out on the exam. And I can figure it out for the rest of my life." Harvard Physics Professor Eric Mazur on his development of peer instruc- tion and concept tests, two of the active learning techniques being applied with great success in MIT Aero-Astro.