The College Lecture? Nobel Laureate Gives It a Failing Grade

May 25, 2017


Stanford physics professor and Nobel laureate Carl Wieman wants to transform undergraduate education by ending one of its longest-standing traditions — the lecture. Wieman has been interested in effective teaching strategies for years. He used to quiz students after lectures and found that only 10 percent of his students were retaining the material. What works better, Wieman’s research found, is a practice called active-learning, where students pivot quickly from a short lecture to solving a specific problem. Wieman claims these techniques could double what most students learn but are not implemented because universities are too focused on research and tenure instead of effective teaching strategies.

Carl Wieman, professor of physics and the graduate school of education, Stanford University; author, “Improving How Universities Teach Science: Lessons from the Science Education Initiative