Eric Mazur is the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics and Dean of Applied Physics at Harvard University, Member of the Faculty of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and President Elect of the Optical Society.
Mazur is a prominent physicist known for his contributions in nanophotonics, an internationally recognized educational innovator, and a sought after speaker. In education he is widely known for his work on Peer Instruction, an interactive teaching method aimed at engaging students in the classroom and beyond. In 2014 Mazur became the inaugural recipient of the Minerva Prize for Advancements in Higher Education. He has received many awards for his work in physics and in education and has founded several successful companies. Mazur is Chief Academic Advisor for Turning Technologies, a company developing interactive response systems for the education market. Mazur has widely published in peer-reviewed journals and holds numerous patents. He has also written extensively on education and is the author of Peer Instruction: A User’s Manual (Prentice Hall, 1997), a book that explains how to teach large lecture classes interactively, and of the Principles and Practice of Physics (Pearson, 2015), a book that presents a groundbreaking new approach to teaching introductory calculus-based physics.
Mazur is a leading speaker on optics and on education. His motivational lectures on interactive teaching, educational technology, and assessment have inspired people around the world to change their approach to teaching.
Abstract: I thought I was a good teacher until I discovered my students were just memorizing information rather than learning to understand the material. Who was to blame? The students? The material? I will explain how I came to the agonizing conclusion that the culprit was neither of these. It was my teaching that caused students to fail! I will show how I have adjusted my approach to teaching and how it has improved my students’ performance significantly.
Abstract: The teaching of physics to engineering students has remained stagnant for close to a century. In this novel team-based, project-based approach, we break the mold by giving students ownership of their learning. This new course has no standard lectures or exams, yet students’ conceptual gains are significantly greater than those obtained in traditional courses. The course blends six best practices to deliver a learning experience that helps students develop important skills, including communication, estimation, problem solving, and team skills, in addition to a solid conceptual understanding of physics. I’ll present the course philosophy and pedagogical approach, and show data obtained in four years of teaching this course.