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Excellence in Teaching Two-hour Workshop, with materials

Excellence in Teaching

Presented by Douglas Duncan, Univ. of Colorado (2002-2020), US Astronomy Teacher of the Year 2011. You are welcome to the Excellence in Teaching Workshop Power Point.

Expectations for the Workshop

  • Learn what students value in teachers
  • Learn how to “Avoid Doing Harm” when teaching.
  • Realize the importance of formalizing teaching goals
  • Be introduced to the science and scholarship related to teaching and learning. Base your own teaching approach on experience, data, and research – not just what the person down the hall does. Be a scientist when teaching!
  • Learn some practical ideas and activities to use immediately
  • Be exposed to the challenge of great teaching.

 Bad Teaching and Good  –  Anyone can become a much better teacher

  • Indications of the problem: Newsweek guest essay, Why My KIds Hate Science. Survey of majors and non-majors’ attitudes: the very extensive Talking About Leaving and Talking About Leaving Revisited studies. Half of all college science majors quit or transfer. Poor teaching and mentoring are major causes.
  • Activity: Think of your best teacher – what made them so good? I will read your minds…! (The Components of Good Teaching are always at the heart of what students say…)
  • The Components of Good Teaching– What do students care about in a teacher?
  • Six Ways to Discourage Learning — the most common mistakes made in classrooms. [The “Components” and “Six Ways…” are examples of scholarship related to teaching]
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy (Illustration, examples, everyday life examples)
  • Setting clear goals and always discussing them with students (e.g. If you think you’re teaching what science is, explicitly discuss it!)
  • What the Professor and TAs (and LAs) should discuss.
  • The importance of the first day of class: set the mood, including your expectation of participation, and why it is OK to be wrong. Here is my First Day PowerPoint, and a student handout.
  • Teach meta-cognitionthinking about your own learning. Use the excellent series of videos designed to help college students study and learn more effectively: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5].

Good Teaching and Great – What Is Better than a “Good, Clear Lecture?

Great Teaching is based on knowledge of your subject, your students, and how they learn.
  • Teaching by telling is surprisingly ineffective if you want students to master concepts. [See the Excellence in Teaching Power Point]
  • A Private Universe Video of student ideas about the seasons and lunar phases – the importance of paying attention to students’ prior conceptions. (9 min. condensed version.) Here’s the full 19 min. video.
  • What physics education research tells us:
    • learning takes place in the mind of the learner, not the teacher
    • student minds must be active to learn
    • new concepts must be integrated with previous knowledge before being useful
  • Motivating students; strategies that improve learning
    • It’s interesting
    • It’s part of my life outside of science class
    • It’s useful to me
    • My friends are all doing it
    • It’s my project
  • Peer Instruction and clickers (with good, conceptual, questions) are an easy way to get student minds active!
  • Tips for Successful Clicker Use
  • The first published data on how texting during class reduces learning. How to deal with texting.
  • Lecture Tutorials (Try The Big Bang or the more challenging Hubble’s Law.)

Resources: A Very Select List

Online – warning – this list is being updated!

  1. Associations
  • American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT)
  • Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP)
  • National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST)
  • Society for College Science Teachers (SCST, a division of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA))
  • Other Journals
  • American Journal of Physics (published by AAPT)
  • Journal of College Science Teaching (published by NSTA)
  • Journal of Research in Science Teaching (published by NARST)
  • Mercury (published by ASP)
  • The Physics Teacher (published by AAPT)
  • AAS Women in Astronomy Listserve Valuable to men as well as women.
  • Phys. Education

IV  Books

  • Peer Teaching in Physics, Eric Mazur.
  • Improving Your Classroom Teaching. Maryellen Weimer, Survival Skills for Scholars Series, V. 1. SAGE Publications:  Newbury Park, CA, 1993.
  • Learner-Centered Teaching, Maryellen Weimer, Jossey-Bass (Wiley), 2002.
  • Talking About Leaving: Why Undergraduates Leave the Sciences, Seymour and Hewitt ( of Colorado), Westview, 1997.

Also Google, “Stanford Multitasking Study” or “The myth of multi-tasking”