Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session


This course, as part of the Experimental Study Group Seminar Series, offers students the opportunity to participate in a small discussion-based class taught by an MIT upperclassman under the guidance of a faculty supervisor. Student James Rising (S.B. '05, Philosophy) taught this seminar, loosely supervised by ESG faculty. Seminars taught in this format are all graded Pass/Fail and receive 1/2 of the academic credit assigned to regular academic classes.

Seminar Goals

The Learning Seminar's objective is to explore experiments in education and learn more about how education and learning might be done, through reading and discussion.

This seminar is not to be a survey of experiments in education. In a sense, its goal is to determine how learning should happen and what kinds of contexts allow it to happen. Reflected disagreement on both points is expected, and that more than one answer will be right. The point is both to find the answer that is right for each person and to suggest how future educational institutions might be designed to make those right ways of learning happen.

The class may be taken as either a 6 or 9 unit seminar. The units are broken down into two 1 hour meetings per week, and two hours of reading as preparation for each meeting. Students who choose to take the 9 unit version will be expected to put in an average of 1 hour of independent research per week and 2 hours of writing. They will turn in a 1 page proposal after 4 weeks, a 6-7 page first draft after 9 weeks, and a 10-12 page, significantly revised and improved final paper at the end of the semester.

Readings Syllabus

This seminar is interested in experiments others have done in education for what they can tell us about how learning happens, and it is concerned with how learning happens for what that can tell us about what experiments should be attempted. To this end, the class is structured by alternating between issues of learning and experiments in education. The topic on learning may not match up exactly with the corresponding experiment, but there are often resonances between the two.