Next Time, Students Help Teach the Class

In this section, Professor Michael Short shares that students from the course have volunteered to teach during the next iteration of the class. He discusses how encouraging this kind of cross-year teaching will help students find peer mentors within the NSE department.

This class went so well that a new initiative was started in our department. Three of the undergrads from the Fall 2015 iteration of the course liked the material so much they want to teach it in the following fall. It's not like there was one person, but three people independently came and asked to teach! They want to teach it so that they become familiar enough to impart it to the next generation, and actually come up with a couple lesson plans and bring in other applications from their own research. This, to my knowledge, has not happened before in our department. So whatever we changed this year worked.

I'm going to let each of them lead one or two recitation sessions, applying what we learn to a special topic — like the origin of cosmic rays, or how ion thrusters work, or whatever they want to look at. They're also all going to be graders, so each one doesn't have to do that much work.

Having three juniors teaching the sophomores will create…camaraderie, and students will organically find mentors.

— Michael Short

I'm really excited for this. I'd say MIT in general doesn't actively encourage the kind of camaraderie between the years that you would want from the students. Having three juniors teaching the sophomores will create that sort of camaraderie, and students will organically find mentors in their own department.

I'm really looking forward to re-teaching this course next time with the mandatory labs, the 50-50 mix of problems sets with basic calculations and conceptual exercises, and these three undergraduate teaching assistants.