Abstract: Education is more than just transfer of information, yet that is what is mostly done in large introductory courses -- instructors present material (even though this material might be readily available in printed form) and for students the main purpose of lectures is to take down as many notes as they can. Few students have the ability, motivation, and discipline to synthesize all the information delivered to them. Yet synthesis is perhaps the most important --and most elusive -- aspect of education. I will show how shifting the focus in lectures from delivering information to synthesizing information greatly improves the learning that takes place in the classroom.
Biography: Eric Mazur is the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University and Area Chair of Applied Physics. An internationally recognized scientist and researcher, he leads a vigorous research program in optical physics and supervises one of the largest research groups in the Physics Department at Harvard University. Mazur founded several companies and plays an active role in industry. He is Past President of the Optical Society. Mazur obtained his PhD at the University of Leiden before joining the faculty at Harvard University. Mazur holds Honorary Doctorates from the École Polytechnique and the University of Montreal and from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, Peru. He is Fellow of the Optical Society of America and Fellow of the American Physical Society. He is a Member of the Royal Academy of Sciences of the Netherlands and a Member of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities. He founded several successful companies, including SiOnyx, a company that is commercializing black silicon, a new form of silicon developed in Mazur's laboratory.