The TEAL Project - Studio Physics at MIT
Introductory Physics is a fundamental underpinning of a technical education, but the material is difficult for students to master. It is a subject in which mathematical complexity can quickly overwhelm physical intuition.
We are developing a prototype for a reform of physics education at MIT which is designed to help students develop much better intuition about, and conceptual models of, physical phenomena. This reform is centered on an "active learning" approach -- that is, a highly collaborative, hands-on environment, with extensive use of desktop experiments and educational technology.
The basic plan is to merge lecture, recitations, and hands-on laboratory experience into a technologically and collaboratively rich experience for incoming freshmen. Students will gather in groups of nine, with twelve or so such groups in a common area, for five hours per week. The students will be exposed to a mixture of instruction, laboratory work with desktop experiments, and collaborative work in smaller groups of three, in a computer rich environment (one networked laptop per three students, with data acquisition links between laptop and experiments).
The desktop experiments and computer-aided analysis of experimental data will give the students direct experience with the basic phenomena. Formal and informal instruction, aided by media-rich interactive software for simulation and visualization, will then aid students in their conceptualization of this experience.
The educational component of the project is funded by the d'Arbeloff Initiative and the MIT School of Science. The software development for this effort is funded by the MIT/Microsoft I-Campus Alliance. The project is sponsored by the Department of Physics and administered through CECI.
Project Faculty and Staff
article about TEAL in MIT's Tech Talk December 12, 2001 entitled "New
classrooms offer high-tech education in physics and mechanical engineering"