MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Students At Mit Benefit From One Professor's Unique Approach To Cross-Disciplinary Education

Educational material on the subject of science should put a good amount of importance on linking scientific information and thoughts to our students’ day-to-day life in addition to other programs of study. A Dec. 2009 post posted on the web page of Howard Hughes Medical Institute HHMI wrote in detail how a professor successfully introduced that educating model into a college class.

Although HHMI teacher, Dr. Catherine Drennan instructs a class in introductory chemistry to about 200 pupils at MIT, she used to be a young student who did not enjoy chemistry in the slightest degree in high school. The way she is altering her students’ attitudes about chemistry is discussed in the piece.

Drennan and her co-instructor developed examples and problem sets that “link specific chemistry lecture topics to biology,” thus making learning chemistry more understandable for their students.

Dr. Drennan remarks in the piece that many of the incoming MIT first-year students hold the same type of attitudes on the topic of chemistry: “I tell my students, you may not have discovered your love for chemistry yet, but I’m going to show you how it is applicable.”

Education researchers at MIT’s Teaching and Learning Lab found that there was a statistically considerable growth in undergraduate happiness with the course following the launch of the inter-disciplinary examples in the lectures.

A further impressive end result is identified in the post in a quote by researcher Rudy Mitchell:

“Even more interesting was the student attendance in the course,” Mitchell says. “Large lecture classes often suffer from poor attendance. But 85 percent of students reported attending 90 percent or more of the lectures. That’s unheard of in a lecture with 200 students, and it speaks to how enthusiastic the students are about the course.”

Drennan’s style of science education is one that would be helpful for students in high school and elementary school as well, not just in public institutions but also in private and home-school settings.