Research Experience for Teachers (RET)
Over the past few years, Mazur has carried out a dynamic
program of educational research to develop a collaborative teaching
method called Peer Instruction to assess its usefulness and to disseminate
the results. Not only has the method proved itself to be very effective,
it has generated considerable interest and has been adopted by a
large number of college and high school teachers across the country.
MRSEC-supported graduate students have learned about Peer Instruction
as teaching fellows and two students have assisted as postdoctoral
fellows with the testing and refinement of this methodology. With
this expertise Mazur directed a second Peer Instruction
Workshop in May 2000 for local teachers. The workshop introduced
Peer Instruction, had the teachers participate in demonstrations
of the PEER Instruction technique to learn how it is used in the
classroom, and provided access to the teaching materials (http://galileo.harvard.edu.)
We initiated a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) during the
summer of 2000 with five teachers from local-area K-12 schools.
Four of the participants teach at the high-school level in the disciplines
of chemistry, biology, physics, and earth science. Our fifth RET
participant is a science cluster coordinator and teaches general
science to elementary students at the Horace Mann School for the
Deaf in the Boston Public School system. Adam Fagan, a doctoral
student under Eric Mazur, served as the RET program coordinator.
Fagan, whose background is in biology, has worked with Mazur
in developing Peer Instruction, and is well-versed in the
ongoing gender issues studies and work on the use of science demonstrations
to promote understanding of concepts. Each of the teachers were
involved in laboratory studies with MRSEC researchers, pursued one
of the educational topics, and participated in the "end-of-the-summer"
seminar series (see REU activity). As follow-up activities to the
summer RET program, the teachers are invited to bring their classes
back to the Center during the academic year. A separate, supplemental
proposal is being submitted to continue the RET program with most
of last summer's participants hoping to return. Special efforts
will be made to expand the program to teachers from the Boston Public
James McNeil talks about the value of the RET and REU programs.
here to view a Quicktime Movie (12 MB).
Application Deadline for the 2006 Research Experience for
Teachers (RET) program is: April 15, 2006.
For more information about this program, contact Kathryn Hollar,
Director of Educational Programs, at:
Pierce Hall Room 206A
29 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Tel.: (617) 496–7479
Fax: (617) 495–2875