Conventional vs Conceptual Knowledge
Nothing exemplifies this more than a question from one of Prof. Mazurs’ students. When asked to take the FCI test, one of the students asks; “Prof. Mazur, how should I answer these questions? According to the way you taught me or according to how I usually think about these things?”. This question stood out to me as it highlights the failure of our education system. During my school and college days, learning about science had nothing to do with the real world. How ironic, as science by definition, is learning about the world around us!
The bottomline is that our current teaching methods are outdated and obsolete. The best we can expect from a lecture driven teaching method is some form of information transfer from the teacher to the students. Students will be able to memorize some of this information and then, hopefully, use it to solve some standard problems in tests. The more important goal of assimilating new concepts with the students existing knowledge structures, cannot be achieved through our current teaching methods. The good news is, science has already shown us the right way forward. All we need to do is act!