The Columns

Professor Prete Will Lecture on Teaching Science and Math

— by on March 25th, 2016

Frederick Prete, associate editor of the International Journal of Comparative Psychology, will give a lecture on March 31 at 5 p.m. in Parmly Hall room 307 in the Science Center of Washington and Lee University.

Prete, who is also on the faculty of the Biology Department of Northeastern Illinois University, will speak on “If You Want Students to Learn Science and Math, Teach Them Like You Teach Sports: Lessons from My Special Ed. High School and University Students.” The talk is free and open to the public.

After teaching in a diverse range of settings, including sheltered workshops for students with special needs, math and science classes for high school students, work-study programs and athletic coaching, Prete said, “This range of experiences has taught me several lessons: teaching is basically the same no matter what the subject; teaching is difficult but not complicated; and, teaching doesn’t require special equipment, rigid lesson plans or uniformity.

“Instead, good teaching requires patience, originality, flexibility and a willingness to celebrate (rather than squelch) individuality. Interestingly, this is precisely how we teach athletics (or music, art and dance), but it is exactly the opposite of the way we teach science and math.

Selected publications include “Visual Stimuli Eliciting Tracking and Striking in the Praying Mantises,” in the Journal of Experimental Biology (2013); “Macroscopic Characteristics of the Praying Mantis,” in the Journal of Insect Physiology (2013); and “Differences in Appetitive Responses to Computer-Generated Visual Stumuli by Female Rhombodera basalis, Deroplatys lobate, Hierodula membranacea and Miomantic sp. (Insecta Mantodea),” in the Journal of Insect Behavior (2013).

Prete has taught courses in the history of learning theory, the biology of learning, brain and behavior, neurobiology, and physiology. His current research interests are in the neurobiology of vision and teaching in the STEM disciplines.