Interview: Aurélien Kuhn, Senior Professor, Grenoble Institute of Technology-Phelma

Categorie(s) : Education, Interviews, MINATEC

Published : 1 October 2018

Aurélien Kuhn, Senior Professor, Grenoble Institute of Technology-Phelma:
“We need to introduce more active instructional methods into college physics classrooms.”


In July, you and your colleagues at Grenoble-Alps University held a symposium on how to bring more active instructional methods into college physics classrooms. What drew you to the topic? 

Mainly because more active instructional methods are common in other countries and have just started to make their way to France in the past few years. We brought around a hundred professors, mainly from the Rhône-Alpes region, together to discuss active instructional methods, whether they are already using them or are interested in getting started. We talked about flipped classrooms, hands-on exercises using real equipment and objects, project-based and problem-based learning, program-level approaches, and more. 


Is the traditional classroom a thing of the past?

Not at all. However, what we are seeing is that technology is creating a host of new possibilities and that putting a professor in front of a lecture hall is expensive. Plus, flipped classrooms and project-based learning are already being used by junior high school teachers. The environment is changing. We are experimenting in higher education, but we do not have all of the answers, nor do we pretend we do. We are just trying to improve—and accept the possibility that we will make mistakes along the way. 


How are these ideas being received by students and teachers?

Initially, students don’t generally like flipped classrooms because they have to prepare beforehand—something they are not used to doing. But I argue that we shouldn’t let this kind of reaction dictate how we teach.  Among teachers, the topic is somewhat controversial, because the lecture has been the dominant teaching format for decades. Which is why I think it is a good idea for teachers that want to experiment with these new methods do do so on a smaller scale. 



*Download the presentations from the symposium at:

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