Harvard Prof Stops Lecturing, Embraces Peer-to-peer

Eric Mazur is a physics professor at Harvard whose energetic, charismatic style has made him a popular teacher for decades.  A few years ago, Mazur suddenly renounced his typical lecture/homework/test-based approach and implemented a radically new approach to teaching that he calls Peer Instruction.

Why would Mazur take such drastic action to fix something that didn’t appear to be broken?  It all started when he read an article by some physics professors at Arizona State reporting that recent graduates of introductory physics courses in college and high school did not appear to understand the fundamental concepts those courses were supposed to teach.

The paper’s authors had tested the students using  something called the  “force concept inventory,” which, despite the scary name, is basically just set of multiple-choice questions. Here’s an example:

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