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By Professor Jim Boyle, University of Strathclyde

A few years ago it became clear to Professor Jim Boyle and his colleagues in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Strathclyde, that their average student, particularly in the first year, was struggling.

After three years researching different approaches to teaching and learning they then decided to try out an approach based on studies from the Galileo Project at Harvard, in particular Eric Mazur's physics group who developed Peer instruction, and the work of the Physics Education Research Group at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

This approach is a variation on 'interactive engagement' methods (that is, students do things in groups, and engage in discussion with each other and with their lecturers, learning at their own pace – even in a large lecture). The technology used enables active collaborative learning with bi-directional feedback – the students know if they are following the material, and so do their lecturers.

Jim Boyle, Autumn 2000.



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