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Spotlight of the Week

UTEACH

By Katie Jeffreys

Features Editor

A new program organized by Benjamin M. Davis ’99, allows MIT undergraduates to step outside their roles as students and participate in the community as teachers. UTEACH was organized by several groups, including alternative freshman programs, the Office of Minority Education, and the Public Service Center. The program acts as the coordinator of these groups’ efforts to provide students the opportunity to pursue their interest in instructing.

Undergraduates are encouraged to create new classes in any topic which interests them or which will complement the current MIT curriculum. The program will help students plan IAP courses by offering resources such as location, funding, and staff. According to Davis, one of the goals of UTEACH is to make “IAP 2000 the most diverse and densely-packed group of learning opportunities ever.” These classes can also range from seminars to for-credit classes.

The informal setting of IAP allows undergraduates to become acquainted with teaching through training and experience. “To this end, UTEACH, along with the Teaching and Learning Laboratory and the Teacher Education Program, will be offering teaching workshops for undergraduates interested in teaching during IAP, and will offer videotaping of students teaching during IAP activities for later review by the students.” said Davis.

UTEACH hopes that the experience will be educational for the undergraduate teachers as well as their students. “Teaching is learning,” said Davis, “It ties all your experiences back to the fundamentals.”

The group is also planning to create residence-based hands-on seminars which will be held in living groups rather than classrooms, and project-based subjects for the freshman year which will supplement GIR’s. An example of these UTEACH goals is already in progress. The Experimental Study Group is offering a version of physics, 8.01 ‘D’ which incorporates engineering design into the traditional curriculum.

Finally, UTEACH plans to assess the role of informal teaching in the education of MIT undergraduates. They do not wish to examine Institute sponsored tutoring programs, but rather the teaching done by upperclassmen or students’ classmates in their residences. Many undergraduates attribute this form of learning to their success at MIT.

Students interested in participating in UTEACH should visit the group’s web page at <http://mit.edu/uteach/>.