Not in This Name
I’m writing to object to your headline of Friday, March 21 (“MIT Walks Out Against War”). Associating all of MIT with the actions of a few seems inappropriate to me.
As a member of an unrecognized club sport, I have been made painfully aware of how stringently MIT guards its name from unauthorized usage. The sentiment expressed by the walkout was certainly not one held by a majority of MIT students: Even if all 2,000 college students present at the protest had been from MIT, that still wouldn’t be even close to a majority.
Regardless of my own personal opinions about the war in Iraq, I find it highly obnoxious for the protesters to claim my support by using the MIT name. In the words of the protesters themselves: “Not in MY Name.”
Tom Wilson ’05
[LTE]On the 8.02 TEAL Petition[body]
During the 8.02 staff regular course meeting on March 19 that afternoon we had a chance to discuss the petition as a group, and to address the issues the petition raised. Below is a summary of that discussion.
The Physics Department is moving away from a format for teaching 8.02 that historically has had a 40 to 50 percent attendance rate, even with spectacularly good lecturers, and a 10 to 15 percent failure rate. In its place we are introducing a format which: (1) presents the concepts in electromagnetism through short “lectures” and visualizations; (2) develops problem-solving skills through guided workshops, carried out with the opportunity to work with peers and discuss with instructors; (3) provides experience with electromagnetic phenomena and with experimental procedures through the experiments.
The TEAL format is more challenging in that it presents all of the analytic and conceptual development while adding the crucial educational dimension of experimental investigation. Accomplishing this requires that students assume more responsibility for their learning, and adapt to a different teaching/ learning experience.
The department is making this transition in a deliberate and careful manner. We have taught in this format twice before, Fall 2001 and Fall 2002, to generally good student reviews. We have been carrying out a detailed assessment of the format from the outset. Our results show across-the-board improvements in conceptual learning in the 8.02 TEAL format, for all ranges of student abilities, as compared to the lecture-recitation format. Many studies of “active” versus “passive” learning environments at other universities replicate these findings.
Although the intellectual level of the TEAL version of 8.02 is appropriate and ambitious, moving to a class size of around 600 students is always a challenge, and the present format does need fine-tuning. The entire staff has discussed this weekly, and we designed the focus groups and the online questionnaire the week before spring break to get direct student feedback. We have also gotten a range of feedback directly from individual students, and we are meeting on April 3 with the UA Student Committee on Educational Policy for input based on their open meeting on 8.02 TEAL. As you read in The Tech [“Students Petition Against TEAL,” March 21], we are planning at the least the following changes:
Allow more time for the experiments and put them more in context.
Reduce the PowerPoint “overviews” in favor of more board work.
Grade some of the workshops quantitatively.
We continue to value and encourage student input of all kinds. Our intent is not to just try something different, but, based on accumulated experience here and elsewhere, to make a real improvement in the quality of undergraduate physics education at the Institute. [sig]