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New group encourages undergrads to teach

Seven teaching and learning-related programs at MIT have formed UTEACH , an organization devoted to encouraging students to teach at MIT during their undergraduate careers.

"Teaching is learning," says Ben Davis (SB 1999), coordinator of the program. "It ties all your experiences back to the fundamentals."

UTEACH plans to promote undergraduate teaching both as a learning experience for the student who teaches and as an opportunity to develop new classes and ways of learning at MIT.

By encouraging and helping undergraduates to create innovative learning experiences (from whole new classes through the Experimental Studies Group, the Edgerton Center or elsewhere, to project-based labs to complement the General Institute Requirements, to hands-on IAP activities and so on), UTEACH hopes to support, broaden and enhance the learning experiences that exist outside the traditional classroom at MIT.

UTEACH is developing and testing several initiatives, including a campaign to enlist more undergraduates to teach during IAP.

"UTEACH encourages students to think of things they know well and could share -- from single topics from a class they've taken to how to cook a mean omelette -- or even things they are interested in learning," said Mr. Davis. "Then it will help students find resources (other students or staff to help brainstorm or co-teach, money, space, training) and assist them in organizing the event, with the goal of making IAP 2000 the most diverse and numerous group of learning opportunities ever."

UTEACH, the Teaching and Learning Laboratory and the Teacher Education Program will sponsor teaching workshops for undergraduates interested in teaching during IAP, and will offer videotaping of students teaching IAP activities for later review by the students.

"UTEACH sees IAP as a perfect time for students to invent and test ideas for new seminars and classes, and for students who are daunted by teaching to try it in a lower-pressure, low-commitment setting," Mr. Davis said.

In addition, UTEACH is organizing and testing several other programs, including developing various project-based classes for the freshman year.

Interested parties may contact Mr. Davis at or visit the UTEACH web page for more information or to get involved in any of the program's initiatives.

UTEACH is a consortium of the Experimental Studies Group, the Integrated Studies Program, the Teaching and Learning Laboratory, the Educational Studies Program, the Teacher Education Program, the Office of Minority Education and the Public Service Center.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 20, 1999.

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