Physics Alive

Physics Alive is the podcast where host, Brad Moser, Ph.D., sparks new life into the physics classroom. Each episode supports and shares the many forward-thinking developments that have come from physics education research and inspiring educators. Brad speaks with teachers who employ innovative and active learning styles, researchers on the frontiers of physics education, catalysts for change on important social issues in the STEM community, and students who want the most out of their education.


episode 30: Teaching Expertise with Carl Wieman

Today I’m speaking with Carl Wieman, 2001 Nobel Laureate, Professor of Physics and Professor of the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University, and recipient of the 2020 Yidan Prize, the world’s largest prize in education. He answers the question: How do people learn to make better decisions? “They practice them, and they get feedback on that practice, and they practice some more. If you practice something very intently, your brain changes the connections to be better at doing it.” We discuss what he has uncovered in his scientific study of teaching and learning.


For today's complete show notes, go to:


Toward the end of the episode, Carl mentions a series of three papers. Each paper discusses courses that are all taught with same set of principles. Those principles are:

Practicing the thinking you want students to do, monitoring that, do timely feedback, and then letting them go back to practicing.


  • Improved Learning in a Large-Enrollment Physics Class
  • Transforming a fourth year modern optics course using a deliberate practice framework
  • Active learning in a graduate quantum field theory course


What are some resources for new teachers or a teacher wanting to do something new?


  • AAPT New Faculty Workshop is the best existing thing.
  • Two books on Carl’s shelf:
    • The ABCs of How We Learn: 26 Scientifically Proven Approaches, How They Work, and When to Use Them
    • How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching
  • The CWSEI website. They have developed a lot of resources for instructors.



 2021-09-21  1h1m