Interests in Teaching Methods

Perhaps it is because I spend so much time working on a computer (and pushing the computers so hard), but I have long been very interested in how to integrate new technologies into teaching. There is a very real trade-off, however: technology takes time away from the students and the instructor. If it doesn't work, students and instructor can become frustrated and turned-off to the material. So technology must be used with careful consideration. Visit my talks on teaching with technology for some of my thought, although be warned that my views may change with time!
Creativity in the Sciences
Most students have an image of a scientist as a nearly robot entity (notice Mr. Data and Mr. Spock in Star Trek?), but real scientists are not like that. Nor do we slavishly follow a recipe to generate research results. We're creative people who often have to improvise methods and make intellectual leaps as a matter of course. Students should be exposed to that, both by teaching them about the people who made the science and by letting them use their own creativity as part of the lessons. I like to create exercises where students regroup what they have learned and form their opinions.

Kolb Learning Styles Inventory
The Kolb assessment is a way of classifying learning styles of people based on how they best learn new material. Most teachers are the ones who learn best from reading/listening and then carefully categorizing and organizing what they have learned. However, most students are not in that particular quadrant of the population. As a result, teachers often miss many of their students because their approach is less than ideal for them. How many great scientists have we lost because they grew frustrated in classes? I am interested in trying to bring instruction methods of each quadrant into my teaching and I try to do so with each lesson. It is often difficult and I do not always succeed, but it is worth the effort.

Weiss John