Dropping Lecture and Summative Exams

2014 TIP Winning Innovation, Dropping Lecture and Summative Exams to Accelerate Deep Learning.




Picture a section of 60 engineering students working in 12 groups, each with its own whiteboard. Prior to class, everyone has carefully read the assigned text and marked it up with social annotation software developed at MIT. After individuals bring homework solutions to class, each group strives for up to 90 minutes to create a superior, collective response. Almost as much time is then spent analyzing differences between the best solution and one’s initial effort: distinguishing conceptual from procedural errors, rating overall understanding, listing areas that need review, and assessing other group members. Grades reflect working really hard and being honest about effort, rather than punishing mistakes.

No one is checking Facebook, and the room is buzzing with energy. When groups hit a roadblock, they appreciate quick and direct access to an instructional aide (an undergraduate who recently took the course), a graduate student instructor, or the professor.

This course, MSE 220, Introduction to Materials and Manufacturing, is open for any U-M faculty to visit, just as Yalisove was able to learn about these pedagogies through multiple visits to the Harvard physics classroom of Eric Mazur, the founder of Peer Instruction.

In 2015, this course will be scaled up for 200+ students by holding it in the newly renovated Pierpont Commons cafeteria.