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I am the head instructor for ASTRO 120: The Sky and Solar System for non-science majors.  The course has a lecture component and recitations in the ISU planetarium.  The class content is finding things in the sky, such as constellations, and the physical processes that occur on planets, moons, and other types of solar system objects.  I also the have been the head instructor and the grader for the online courses ASTRO 102 (North Star) and 103 (Evening Star).


Teaching Philosophy

In my classes, I try to bring personal experiences to the classroom; for example not just showing a picture of a telescope, but a story about what I saw and felt when I visited it personally. I am a visual learner, and therefore bring that type of learning to the classroom (cartoons, diagrams, sketches, etc.). When I teach I try to not just provide the material but also share the ways that I remember it, so that hopefully the students will have an easier time retaining the information. In a small class setting, I prefer to write on the board and have the students copy the material. While this method may seem outdated, given all the technology we have at our hands, it naturally slows down the pace of the class to a speed where students can assimilate new information most efficiently. In larger class settings, I turn to powerpoint presentations and other media, as it can be hard for students in a large lecture hall to see the board from far away. In my presentation, I make sure to include the words that I am saying, not just a picture of diagram, so if the students go back and look at the slides (which I make available), they will know what they are looking at. I like to give homework a substantial weight in comparison to exams, because I think it is more representative of how professional science is conducted. Scientists think about the problem on their own, then work with others in places where they are stuck. I believe in having exams that test each part of the course separately. That is to say the “final” exam is not cumulative, but only on the latter half of the class. I use this method because giving a cumulative final means students are tested on earlier material twice and later material only once. The later material is then not as deeply learned, despite it being as important as the early material. I believe in treating students as adults. I do not tolerate any kind of attitudes toward other students based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and the like. I try to be available via email or message boards throughout the day and evening when I can be for student questions.