Memorizing or Understanding: Are We Teaching the Right Thing? by Dr. Eric Mazur, Professor of Physics, Harvard University

Dr. Eric Mazur, Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, Harvard University, addresses the pedagogical issue of promoting understanding as opposed to memorization. During the EduLearn conference in Barcelona in 2014, he delivered a talk, “Memorizing or Understanding: Are We Teaching the Right Thing?” Dr. Mazur argues that education is more than just transfer of information, yet that is what is mostly done in large introductory courses — instructors present material (even though this material might be readily available in printed form) and for students the main purpose of lectures is to take down as many notes as they can. Few students have the ability, motivation, and discipline to synthesize all the information delivered to them. Yet synthesis is perhaps the most important — and most elusive — aspect of education. Dr. Mazur demonstrated how shifting the focus in lectures from delivering information to synthesizing information greatly improves the learning that takes place in the classroom. For more information access the link below for the video and PPT slides:

by Everett Igobwa, Educational Developer, Faculty of Science

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