Regular readers know that my favorite Granite Geek story of recent time involves Dartmouth research into why mathematicians love blackboards. (“Just as surely as a+b=b+a, mathematicians love their blackboards“)

So I was delighted to stumble across another science-related paean* to blackboards, “The Power of the Blackboard.”

Over at Case Western, Mathur believes that the ease of erasure makes students less hesitant to put down answers on the board. “Perhaps it’s the impermanence of writing on a board that makes them feel less concerned about being judged negatively,” he says.

Using a blackboard also moderates the pace of a discussion or explanation. Blackboards help in teaching by slowing down the lecture and allowing the students to absorb information and knowledge at a more human rate. Students in Mathur’s first-year introductory physics class overwhelmingly favour the blackboard over PowerPoint as the primary means of communication.

Incidentally, I came across that piece via a Twitter feed called @RealScientists – each week a different working scientist takes over the feed and tweets all week about their work. Twitter is often stupid and destructive, but @RealScientists is excellent.

*Yes, I had to double-check how to spell it.

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