Interactive is the last word many people associate with large lecture hall lectures; many people who haven’t had classes with Craig Wiegert, that is.
His seven years on campus have transformed undergraduate education in physics and astronomy into a dynamic, participation-oriented pedagogy that combines new technology, peer-instruction techniques, compelling lecture demonstrations and inspiring study sessions.
Although his tests are notoriously tough, Wiegert’s classes are an experience that few students forget.
Wiegert joined UGA as a temporary assistant professor in fall 2003 as a Franklin Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow and moved into a tenure-track position in 2007. Since then, he’s not only revolutionized his own teaching style, but has helped others who want to learn new methods for teaching. In 2004, he won a grant to install an Internet-based homework system for the physics and astronomy department that has largely replaced hand-grading student work, helping to provide quicker feedback to both students and instructors.
Wiegert’s passion for teaching is nearly inexhaustible. He also played a vital role in helping bolster the Physics Learning Community, a university-led initiative to better prepare middle and high school students for academic success in STEM disciplines. The community brings together UGA professors with local teachers every month to discuss new techniques in science instruction.
Wiegert’s teaching has made an indelible impression on students and other instructors.
“Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we were treated to a new explanation of how the world around us worked,” one student wrote in a course evaluation. “Don’t misunderstand, some of the concepts were still difficult to grasp, but the vigor and excitement with which he conveyed them made one feel privileged to be there at that very moment. That way, even if we didn’t fully grasp electromagnetism, we would at least know what it was supposed to feel like when we found our callings.”