Institute of Education


Taking a scientific approach to science and engineering education

25 September 2019, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

Professor Carl Wieman speaking at the UCL Institute of Education

Nobel Prize winner Professor Carl Wieman delivers a lecture on research into a new approach to teaching and learning in science education.

This event is free.

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Kate Thomas


Jeffery Hall
UCL Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way
United Kingdom


Guided by experimental tests of theory and practice, science and engineering has advanced rapidly in the past 500 years. Meanwhile science education, guided primarily by tradition and dogma, has remained largely medieval.

Research on how people learn is now revealing much more effective ways to teach and evaluate learning than the methods used in the traditional science class. This involves utilising the instructor's expertise in the classroom and showing students how to learn most effectively for themselves.

This research is setting the stage for a new approach to teaching and learning that can provide the relevant and effective science education for all students that is needed for the 21st century. Professor Wieman also covers more meaningful and effective ways to measure the quality of teaching.

The focus of this talk is on undergraduate science teaching, where the data is the most compelling, however the underlying principles come from studies of the general development of expertise and can be applied widely. 

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The lecture was co-hosted by the OECD Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) and the Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE).


About the Speaker

Professor Carl Wieman

Carl Wieman holds a joint appointment at Stanford University, as Professor of Physics and of the Graduate School of Education.

He has conducted extensive experimental research in atomic and optical physics, but his intellectual focus is now on undergraduate physics and science education. He has pioneered the use of experimental techniques to evaluate the effectiveness of various teaching strategies for physics and other sciences, and in 2017 published Improving How Universities Teach Science: Lessons from the Science Education Initiative, Harvard University Press.

During the Obama administration he served as Associate Director for Science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and among his many awards are the Lorentz Medal (1998), Benjamin Franklin Medal (2000) and Nobel Prize in Physics (2001), as well as the Oersted Medal (2007) recognising notable contributions to the teaching of physics.