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Teaching Excellence Workshops

Since 2004, CAE workshops have reached 3,592 participants from all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico, Canada, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Workshops Locations
Click a location to register for a specific workshop
Fall/Winter 2016/2017
Valhalla, New York
Regional Teaching Exchange
September 17, 2016
Seattle, Washington
Regional Teaching Exchange
September 24, 2016
Jamestown, North Carolina
Regional Teaching Exchange
September 24, 2016
Grapevine, Texas
Tier I,Special Topics
January 4, 2017
Grapevine, Texas
Tier I,Special Topics
January 5, 2017
Spring/Summer 2017
Fall/Winter 2017/2018
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CAE’s Teaching Excellence Workshops for Current and Future Astronomy and Space Science Instructors

Are you a current or future instructor teaching Astronomy or Space Science? Would you like your classroom to actively engage your students in discourse about the big ideas of your class; how evidence is used to understand the universe; and the role of science in society? We invite you to come to our CAE Teaching Excellence Workshop. Spend time with your colleagues becoming an effective implementer of active-learning instructional strategies. Learn how to transform your classroom into a vibrant learning environment that will:

  1. increase students’ conceptual understandings
  2. improve their abilities to think critically, interpret graphs, and reason about quantitative data
  3. motivate them to actively engage in their learning
  4. improve their self-efficacy
By participating, you’ll become part of a nationwide community of practice, along with over 4000 past workshop participants and other educators of Astronomy and Space Science. Our CAE community of practice is dedicated to helping each other, in a supportive online environment, through advice, recommendations, and conversation about effective implementation strategies, effective pedagogical resources, science education research, public policy, specific classroom resources, and more.
CAE Tier I Teaching Excellence Workshops
Our Tier I Teaching Excellence Workshops will provide you with the experiences you need to create effective and productive active-learning classroom environments. We will model best practices in implementing many different classroom-tested instructional strategies. But most importantly, you and your workshop colleagues will gain first-hand experience implementing these proven strategies yourselves. During our many microteaching events, you’ll have the opportunity to role-play the parts of student and instructor. You’ll assess and critique each other’s implementation in real-time, as part of a supportive learning community. You’ll have the opportunity to face and conquer your fears of unfamiliar teaching in collaboration with kind and gentle friends and mentors before you try them by yourself in front of your students.
Workshop Participants
Tier I Workshop topics will include:
  • Creating inclusive classroom environments
  • Strategies to improve retention & diversity of STEM majors & grads
  • Collaborative group learning
  • Interactive lectures, demonstrations, and videos
  • Effective uses of writing
  • Think-Pair-Share (Peer Instruction, Clicker Questions)
  • Lecture-Tutorials
  • Ranking Tasks
  • Assessment strategies (including homework, grading, and exams)

CAE Tier II Teaching Excellence Special Topics Workshops
Our Tier II Teaching Excellence Special Topics Workshops offer past Tier I workshop participants the opportunity to delve more deeply into a particular instructional strategy or content area, while still role-playing, assessing, critiquing, and mentoring each other.

CAE Regional Teaching Exchanges
Our Regional Teaching Exchanges create networks of local communities of instructors by bringing together past workshop participants and local instructors who have not been able to participate in a past workshop. These Regional Teaching Exchanges center on building local communities of practice to expand and continue professional development beyond the scope of our workshops.

The CAE Team
For over a decade, members of CAE have been national leaders in the research on student conceptual reasoning difficulties in Astronomy and Space Science (refs. 1-5). Our work has informed many instructional strategies proven to improve students’ knowledge, skills, and reasoning abilities in Earth, Astronomy, and Space Science (refs. 6-12). In addition, members of CAE, in collaboration with science educators across the nation, have developed several research-validated assessment methods and tools used to evaluate the effectiveness of classroom instruction (refs. 13-22). The educational professional development programs offered by CAE use a research-informed, active-engagement approach to the mentoring and training of current and future Earth, Astronomy, and Space Science instructors on the best use and implementation of these instructional strategies and assessment methods (ref. 23).

Why We at CAE Want to Help You Be an Effective STEM Instructor
Almost all college Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) instructors, postdocs, and graduate students receive little to no formal training in how to effectively implement active-learning instructional strategies that have been proven to improve students’ knowledge, skills, and beliefs beyond what is typically achieved in college STEM courses. Furthermore, most have only been in classrooms that use the instructor-centered, student-passive, lecture-model of instruction that dominates college instruction. This is why many college-level STEM instructors end up using only lecture to teach our STEM majors and graduate students, our college non-science majors, and our future K-12 teachers. Unfortunately, the “lecture-dominated” classroom often causes our bright and academically successful STEM majors to abandon their STEM degrees before completion—and this is especially true for women, minorities, and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds (ref. 24-25). The inability to transform our STEM classes into active-learning environments creates a cycle that (1) reconfirms for our non-science majors why they don’t like science, wouldn’t want to be a scientist, and don’t value the benefits of science or scientists to our society (ref. 26); (2) fails to prepare our nation’s K-12 teachers to teach the space science content they will be responsible for teaching (ref. 27-29); and (3) definitely does not prepare teachers to inspire, excite, encourage, or nurture our next generation of the STEM workforce. This is our nation’s STEM pipeline “issue.” This is why we are a nation at risk. This is why it is our responsibility to break the cycle.

Let CAE help you bring the joy of teaching back to you and the excitement of learning back to your students!

We at CAE are continually evolving our workshops based on the needs and recommendations of our workshop participants. If it’s been a while since you participated in one of our Teaching Excellence Workshops, we encourage you to participate again, as they have likely changed. Also, we encourage you to join your local CAE Regional Teaching Exchange.

About the Presenters

  1. Bailey, J. M., Prather, E. E., Johnson, B., & Slater, T. F. (2009), “College Students’ Preinstructional Ideas About Stars and Star Formation,” Astronomy Education Review 8(1).
  2. Offerdahl, E. G., Prather, E. E., & Slater, T. F (2002), “Students’ Pre-Instructional Beliefs and Reasoning Strategies about Astrobiology,” Astronomy Education Review, 1(2).
  3. Prather, E. E. (2005), “Students’ Beliefs About the Role of Atoms in Radioactive Decay & Half-life,” Journal of Geoscience Education, 53(4).
  4. Prather, E. E., Slater, T. F, & Offerdahl, E. G. (2002), “Hints of a Fundamental Misconception in Cosmology,” Astronomy Education Review, 1(2).
  5. Wallace, C. S., Prather, E. E., and Duncan, D. K. 2011, “A Study of General Education Astronomy Students’ Understandings of Cosmology. Part IV. Common Difficulties Students Experience with Cosmology,” Astronomy Education Review, 11(1).
  6. Hudgins, D. W., Prather, E. E., Grayson, D. J., & Smits, D. P. (2006), “Effectiveness of Collaborative Ranking Tasks on Student Understanding of Key Astronomy Concepts,” Astronomy Education Review, 5(1).
  7. Prather, E. E. & Brissenden, G, (2009), “Clickers as Data Gathering Tools & Students' Attitudes, Motivations, & Beliefs on Their Use in this Application,” Astronomy Education Review, 8(1).
  8. Prather, E. E., Rudolph, A. L., & Brissenden, G. (2009), “Teaching & Learning Astronomy in the 21st Century,” Physics Today, 62(9).
  9. Prather, E. E., Slater, T. F., Adams, J. P., & Brissenden, G. (2013), Lecture-Tutorials for Introductory Astronomy (3rd ed.), San Francisco, CA: Pearson Addison-Wesley.
  10. Prather, E. E., Slater, T. F., Bailey, J. M., Adams, J. P., Dostal, J. A., & Jones, L. V. (2004), “Research on a Lecture-Tutorial Approach to Teaching Introductory Astronomy for Non-Science Majors,” Astronomy Education Review, 3(2).
  11. Wallace, C. S., and Prather, E. E. 2012, “Teaching physics with Hubble’s law and dark matter,” American Journal of Physics, 80(5).
  12. Wallace, C. S., Prather, E. E., and Duncan, D. K. 2011, “A Study of General Education Astronomy Students’ Understandings of Cosmology. Part V. The Effects of a New Suite of Cosmology Lecture-Tutorials on Students’ Conceptual Knowledge,” International Journal of Science Education, 34(9).
  13. Bailey, J. M. (2012), “Development and Validation of the Star Properties Concept Inventory,” International Journal of Science Education, 34(14).
  14. Bardar, E. M., Prather, E. E., Slater, T. F., & Brecher, K. (2007), “Development & Validation of the Light and Spectroscopy Concept Inventory,” Astronomy Education Review, 5(2).
  15. Brissenden, G., Slater, T. F., Mathieu, R. D. (2002), “The Role of Assessment in the Development of the College Introductory Astronomy Course,” Astronomy Education Review, 1(1).
  16. Keller, J. M. (2006), “Development of a Concept Inventory Addressing Students’ Beliefs and Reasoning Difficulties Regarding the Greenhouse Effect,” Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Lunar and Planetary Sciences, The University of Arizona.
  17. Prather, E. E., Rudolph, A. L., Brissenden, G., & Schlingman, W.M. (2009), “A National Study Assessing the Teaching & Learning of Introductory Astronomy: Part I. The Effect of Interactive Instruction,” American Journal of Physics, 77(4).
  18. Rudolph, A. L., Prather, E. E., Brissenden, G., Consiglio, D., & Gonzaga, V. (2010),” A National Study Assessing the Teaching & Learning of Introductory Astronomy Part II: The Connection Between Student Demographics & Learning,” Astronomy Education Review, 9(1).
  19. Schlingman, W. M., Rudolph, A. L., Prather, E. E., Brissenden, G., & CATS (2009), “A Classical Test Theory Analysis of the Light and Spectroscopy Concept Inventory National Study Data Set,” Astronomy Education Review, 11(1).
  20. Wallace, C. S., Prather, E. E., and Duncan, D. K. 2011, “A Study of General Education Astronomy Students’ Understandings of Cosmology. Part I. Development and Validation of Four Conceptual Cosmology Surveys,” Astronomy Education Review, 10(1).
  21. Wallace, C. S., Prather, E. E., and Duncan, D. K. 2011, “A Study of General Education Astronomy Students’ Understandings of Cosmology. Part II. Evaluating Four Conceptual Cosmology Surveys: A Classical Test Theory Approach,” Astronomy Education Review, 10(1).
  22. Wallace, C. S., Prather, E. E., and Duncan, D. K. 2011, “A Study of General Education Astronomy Students’ Understandings of Cosmology. Part III. Evaluating Four Conceptual Cosmology Surveys: An Item Response Theory Approach,” Astronomy Education Review, 11(1).
  23. Prather, E. E. & Brissenden, G. (2009), “Development & Application of a Situated Apprenticeship Approach to Professional Development of Astronomy Instructors,” Astronomy Education Review, 7(2).
  24. Seymour, E. & Hewitt, N. M. (1997). Talking about Leaving: Why Undergraduates Leave the Sciences. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  25. Springer, L., Stanne, M. E., and Donovan, S. S. (1999). “Effects of Small-Group Learning on Undergraduates in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology: A Meta-Analysis,” Review of Educational Research, 69(1).
  26. Tobias, S, (1990). They’re Not Dumb, They’re Different: Stalking the Second Tier. Tucson, AZ: Research Corporation.
  27. McDermott, L. C. (1993), “How We Teach and How Students Learn–A Mismatch?” American Journal of Physics, 61(4).
  28. Wandersee, J. H., Mintzes, J. J., & Novak, J. D. (1994). Research on alternative conceptions in science. In D. L. Gabel (Ed.), Handbook of research on science teaching and learning (pp.177-210). New York: Macmillan.
  29. Bisard, W. J., Aron, R. H., Francek, M. A., & Nelson, B. D. (1994). Assessing selected physical science and earth science misconceptions of middle school through university preservice teachers: Breaking the “misconception cycle.” Journal of College Science Teaching, 24(1), 38-42.
CAE is housed in the Astronomy Dept. at the Univ. of Arizona's Steward Observatory. CAE is funded through the generous contributions of the NASA JPL Exoplanet Exploration Public Engagement Program. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0715517, a CCLI Phase III Grant for the Collaboration of Astronomy Teaching Scholars (CATS). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Workshops Contact information:
Gina Brissenden:

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