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Mazur group will help to enhance teaching at U. Texas at Austin

Integration of educational technology and scientific approaches to ensuring student academic success will be implemented across the campus

Eric Mazur, an innovator in technology-based learning methods, is helping to lead an effort to improve student success at the University of Texas at Austin.

Austin, Texas - April 21, 2010 - A new effort between researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Harvard University has been created to help improve teaching and learning through educational innovation and technology.

Steven W. Leslie, executive vice president and provost at The University of Texas at Austin, said the endeavor brings together top educational researchers from the Mazur Group at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Harvard's Department of Physics with educational innovators from The University of Texas at Austin.

They will lead the implementation and dissemination of cutting-edge, evidence-based, interactive strategies of instruction that leverage educational technology to improve student learning and success.

The primary vehicle used by the team will be the university's new Course Transformation Program, a state-of-the-art effort to advance pedagogical innovation, effective teaching and student success in general education courses.

"The Course Transformation Project's integration of educational technology and scientific approaches to ensuring student academic success is unique," said Julie Schell, a SEAS postdoctoral fellow, senior educational researcher in the Mazur Group, and lead collaborator on the project.

Eric Mazur, the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics and Area Dean for Applied Physics at SEAS, heads one of the largest physics and engineering research groups at Harvard. Mazur is also the developer of Peer Instruction, an innovative, evidence-based teaching and learning method used in thousands of classrooms throughout the world.

The Course Transformation Program already is transforming large, lower division gatekeeper courses at The University of Texas at Austin to improve student academic success and increase learning gains. The project eventually will reach more than 40,000 students in a five-year period.

Gretchen Ritter, vice provost for undergraduate education and faculty governance at The University of Texas at Austin, is director of the program, which is being developed and implemented by the university's Center for Teaching and Learning under the leadership of Harrison Keller, vice provost for higher education policy and executive director of the Center for Teaching and Learning.

"Universities around the country are increasingly aware that the Internet has significantly changed the way our students learn," Ritter said.

She said advising for the project is provided by two faculty led panels — the Research and Assessment Advisory Panel, co-chaired by Chandra Muller, a professor of sociology, and Paul Resta, the Ruth Knight Millikan Centennial Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and the Educational Technology and Learning Analytics Advisory Panel, chaired by Bruce Porter, chair of the Department of Computer Science.

Leslie said innovative, technology-enhanced approaches to teaching and learning "will help us better connect to all of our students, better support their academic and professional development and better prepare them for tomorrow's workplace."

"I'm excited to be part of a faculty-led push to innovate in lower-division courses across the campus at The University of Texas at Austin," Mazur said.

The Mazur Group develops and researches technology-based learning methods that drive student success by transforming conventionally taught courses. More information about the Mazur Group can be found at:

For more information, contact: Robert D. Meckel, Office of Public Affairs, 512 475 7847; Gretchen Ritter, Office of the Provost, 512-232-3312.

Topics: Academics

Scientist Profiles

Eric Mazur

Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics