Instructor Insights

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 11.131 Educational Theory and Practice III as it was taught by Reen Gibb in Spring 2012.

11.131 is the final course in a sequence that leads to teacher certification in Massachusetts. The course concentrates on the theory and psychology associated with student learning. Assignments include readings from educational literature, classroom observations accompanied by written reflections, presentations on class topics, and practice teaching.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • Prepare to teach in school settings where there is a lot of diversity (e.g., in terms of socioeconomic status, academic abilities and motivations, race, etc.)
  • Analyze their own learning styles, and then appreciate the large variety of students and learning styles that make up a typical classroom
  • Learn a wide range of teaching techniques in order to determine their own voice in the classroom
  • Design and evaluate curricula using curriculum design and assessment tools
  • Become familiar with state standards for students and the MTEL tests for teacher licensure

Possibilities for Further Study/Careers

Careers in teaching; some students apply for Teach for America.

Instructor Interview

"My public high school teaching job is a continuous training ground for the MIT classes I teach."
—Reen Gibb

Below, instructor Reen Gibb describes how her experience as a teacher has influenced her teaching of this course, and how this course has evolved over time.

Active Teachers Teaching Teacher Education

I believe teacher preparation courses benefit from being taught, at least in part, by active teachers.

The university environment is so different from K-12 schools; it is good to have a dose of reality. My thirty years of teaching experience in a variety of subjects and grades has been my best preparation for teaching 11.131. My public high school teaching job is a continuous training ground for the MIT classes I teach, providing ample everyday examples as well as a constant reality check. The classes I teach at MIT also enrich my high school classes; through the MIT classes, I continue to learn, read, and discuss in ways that keep me more actively engaged in learning than I would be otherwise.

Other roles that have prepared me for teaching 11.131 include serving as department chair, working for the College Board in redesigning the AP chemistry curriculum, developing tests, grading, and leading the team that wrote the manual that certified Brookline High School to become a teacher training center.

Course Evolution

This course was originally based on a Wellesley College education course. Much has changed so far.

Some anticipated future changes include

  • Increased use of technology to support student learning, and
  • More student teaching hours as required by the state.

Curriculum Information


Requirements Satisfied


  • Every spring

Student Information


About 10 students

Breakdown by Year

Mostly seniors, some juniors.

Breakdown by Major

Varies by year; typically includes students from across math, science, and engineering.

Typical Student Background

Interested in teaching, idealistic.

Ideal Class Size

A class of this type should not have more than 12 students. This is a seminar class in which we place students in schools; not only are there a limited number of spots in schools, but time goes by very quickly during class as members share their questions and experiences and conduct model lessons.

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In class

  • Two class sessions per week; 1.5 hours per session
  • Mandatory attendance

In-class activities

  • Activities to improve students’ communication skills and teaching experience, such as presentations and discussions
  • Resumé writing and interview practice, to prepare students for obtaining a teaching job
  • Guest speakers, who addressed a range of topics such as first-year teaching experiences, education leadership, administrators’ points of view, and student motivation

Out of Class

  • Student teaching
  • Classroom observation
  • Journaling
  • Interviews with experienced instructors
  • Special project to benefit the schools at which students were doing student teaching
  • Composition of a course expectation handout
  • Resume composition
  • The hours here reflect the Spring 2012 offering of this course. Offerings of this course from July 2014 onward include 12 hours per week of out of class work.

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

co_present Instructor Insights