The 2017 Dudley Herschbach Teacher/Scientist Lecture

“The Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge Program: A Model for Dramatically Increasing Diversity at the PhD Level in Science and Engineering” 
Keivan Stassun
Professor of Physics & Astronomy, Vanderbilt University


We briefly review the current status of underrepresented minorities in science and engineering: The underrepresentation of Black-, Hispanic-, and Native-Americans is an order of magnitude problem, especially in the physical sciences and engineering disciplines. We then describe the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge program as a successful model for addressing this problem. Since 2004 the program has admitted nearly 120 students, 90% of them underrepresented minorities (50% female), with a PhD completion rate of 85%. Already, the program is the top producer of African American master's degrees in physics, and is the top producer of minority PhDs in astronomy, materials science, and physics. We summarize the main features of the program including its core strategies: (1) replacing the GRE in admissions with indicators that are better predictive of long-term success, (2) partnering with a minority-serving institution for student training through collaborative research, and (3) using the master’s degree as a deliberate stepping stone to the PhD with a wrap-around mentoring model. We show how misuse of the GRE in graduate admissions may by itself in large part explain the ongoing underrepresentation of minorities in PhD programs, and we describe our alternate methods to identify talented individuals most likely to succeed. We describe our mentoring model and toolkit which may be utilized to enhance the success of all PhD students.

How to Speak: Lecture Tips from Patrick Winston

Professor Patrick Winston of MIT outlines a structure for how to give an effective lecture, illustrating the ideas by using them himself. He covers how to start a lecture, cycling in on the material, using verbal punctuation to indicate transitions, describing "near misses" that strengthen the intended concept, and asking questions. He also discusses use of the blackboard, overhead projections, props, as well as "how to stop."

Teaching in America: A Guide for International Faculty

For many international faculty, the greatest challenge is not the English language, but understanding the expectations of American students and the culture of the American college classroom. Teaching in America offers insights from more than 20 experienced international faculty members and teaching assistants at Harvard. Interviews and classroom sessions cover topics including breaking down cultural barriers, dealing with language problems, keeping discussions lively, and responding to student concerns.

The goal of Teaching in America is to speed up the process of feeling at home in the American classroom by offering advice and inspiration from those who have successfully met this challenge.

Eric Mazur - Assessment: The Silent Killer of Learning

Dudley Herschbach Teacher/Scientist Lecture

Eric Mazur, Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, presented the Fall 2013 Dudley Herschbach Teacher/Scientist Lecture on October 29, 2013 in the Science Center, with an introduction by Robert Lue, Richard L. Menschel Faculty Director of the Bok Center and Faculty Director of HarvardX. Prof. Mazur's talk is titled "Assessment: The Silent Killer of Learning."

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