There’s a piece in today’s Science Times about how MIT has overhauled its intro physics class, abandoning the lecture-hall style approach in favor of smaller, hands-on, interactive classes:
“Last fall, after years of experimentation and debate and resistance from students, who initially petitioned against it, the department made the change permanent. Already, attendance is up and the failure rate has dropped by more than 50 percent.”
That rise in attendance isn’t surprising—showing up counts toward students’ grades under the new regime. The rise in test scores, on the other hand, sounds promising. It makes us here at C&ENtral Science wonder whether general chemistry is due for a face-lift as well. There’s already discussion about whether orgo should be retrofitted for majors versus med students, but is there a need to make gen chem more engaging?
The goal of the MIT program is to keep nonmajors on track, but it seems possible that if the physics class were more interesting, more people might consider the major. Would these types of small, interactive classes work for turning students on to chemistry just as well as in physics? C&ENtral Science readers, what do you say? Do we need to take a lesson from our the physics folks?