Watch: Nobel Laureate sheds light on scientific teaching during recent lecture

| Mon, 02/25/19

Florida State University hosted Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman, a renowned physicist and educator, earlier this month, to discuss his research-based approach to science education and how new practices can provide more effective learning for college-level science students. He has been a trailblazer in the education field for more than 25 years and published over 100 papers based on his research on improving science education. Click here to watch the presentation with Wieman's slides. 


“I got into this after working with graduate students,” Wieman said. “I came to see a pattern that really puzzled me. Consistently, I would see these graduate students who would come into my laboratory after having many years of tremendous success in their physics courses, but in my lab trying to do physics — they were pretty clueless.”

Wieman, a professor of physics and education at Stanford University, has won an array of awards and honors for his innovative work in both fields. In 2001, he won the Nobel Prize in physics, and, in 2004, was named the Carnegie Foundation Professor of the Year. Weiman’s scientific teaching method differs from traditional lecturing. It gets students more involved in the subject matter and encourages them to think like a scientist or expert in the field and engage in more decision-making.

In discussing an experiment between two physics courses, Wieman described one as a traditional lecture taught by an expert professor and the same course led by a doctoral student using Wieman’s scientific teaching method. Those learning from the doctoral student did twice as well on the final exam. Another example came from a biology class at Cornell University. Initially, underrepresented minorities were underperforming in comparison to their peers. After instructors moved to scientific teaching methods, the grade gap disappeared.

The lecture was sponsored by the FSU College of Arts and Sciences and the FSU-Teach program as part of the FSU-Teach 10-year anniversary celebration.