My teaching philosophy is rooted in the idea that as instructors, we must strike a balance between the coverage and retention of important general concepts, while also framing the critical roles science and thinking scientifically play in our society. College students enter their classrooms with beliefs about scientific concepts that fit their current worldviews, but are not necessarily rooted in scientific accuracy. Since it is nearly impossible to formatively assess what students understand about each new topic in an introductory science course, it is imperative to supplement traditional lecture with active learning strategies targeted towards addressing common conceptual and reasoning difficulties on specific topics. Students are not merely vessels that accept information; they are more likely to thrive when they play a part in contributing to their own knowledge. Activities used to promote active learning generally consist of carefully sequenced cognitive tasks designed to explicitly engage students in the process of making their own assertions about scientific claims using evidence-based reasoning, while at the same time reinforcing recently acquired content knowledge. I try to utilize as many of these active learning strategies as possible in my courses.
One of the main reasons I chose a career path in discipline-based education research was so I could use my research findings, combined with those in cognitive science, educational psychology, and the astronomy education research literature to better inform my teaching practices.