2013 Avanti Science Leadership Conference

The Avanti Science Leadership Conference provides a platform to convene exceptional school principals and teachers with renowned education researchers to discuss best practices in science education. The conference is comprised of a series of invitation-only workshops, the first of which (“Peer Learning”) took place on Nov. 11, 2013 in Mumbai. There, Harvard Professor and Area Dean of Applied Physics Eric Mazur presented on his decades of applying peer learning in his classroom. This workshop was put on in collaboration with the Department of Education Technology, IIT Bombay.

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In Bombay, Professor Mazur led educators through activities illustrating the benefits of applying peer learning in their classrooms. His was a 2-hour session attended by 70+ principals and teachers from affordable schools across Mumbai as well as education researchers from IIT Bombay and the Homi Bhabha Centre of Science Education. The first half was an interactive session with Prof. Mazur where told us about why he started using peer instruction in his class and how he implements it using ConcepTests. In the second half the participants took part in an exercise about design of good questions so as to test higher order thinking skills.

Compared to the traditional model, where a teacher lectures to a class and students take notes, a flipped classroom with peer learning has many advantages. With peer learning, students spend the majority of class time working collaboratively on solving problems, discussing challenging concepts and addressing their individual doubts. Information transfer, the purpose of the lecture, is shifted to structured pre-reading conducted at home. Teachers are therefore freed to apply their skills in more productive ways, paying greater attention to individual students and guiding students through the learning process.

Here’s what participants had to say about their experience:

  • “Peer Learning is really required to be known to the teacher for today’s generation and children want to learn everything in limited time”
  • “It will help teachers to make their classroom teaching more interesting. It will helpful to better understand the concepts”
  • “Great thing to take away and very much applicable to classroom!”
  • “Such workshops refresh & motivate for better teaching.”
  • “Lively, great speaker and relevant topic. Felt lucky to be a part of it.”