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Building Our Community:
Building Our Community:
Introducing the New AstroLrner@CAE Guest Moderator Program

April, 2007
Sudol, Gettysburg College & Brissenden, University of Arizona

At the forefront of the NASA Center for Astronomy Education (CAE) is the importance of creating a community of practice amongst all of us who are teaching astronomy to non-science majors—to share our successes, our exasperations, and our expertise with one another so we become more scholarly in our teaching and improve learning for our students. In our pursuit of building this community, CAE is very proud to announce our first Guest Moderator of AstroLrner@CAE. For those of us who might not be familiar with AstroLrner@CAE, this is our online moderated academic Discussion Group (please note the link to left on our sidebar) that promotes the sharing of thoughts and expertise in astronomy education—where you can ask your colleagues your questions and help them out with theirs. In addition, members of AstroLrner@CAE are encouraged to challenge each other with thought provoking questions related to astronomy education research and the scholarship of teaching. If you are not currently a member of AstroLrner@CAE, join now! If you would be interested in being a Guest Moderator yourself let us know!

So, without further ado, CAE would like to introduce you to Jeff Sudol at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. Welcome, Jeff!! We at CAE look forward to your stay with us, and to the impact you will have on our online community. Jeff has been a member of the CAE community for many years now. Before moving on, Jeff was at the National Solar Observatory, across the street from the CAE offices. This provided us the opportunity to have hours of conversation related to the teaching and learning of astronomy. And, as you will come to learn, Jeff is a very thoughtful, introspective, and dedicated instructor, tirelessly working toward creating an effective learner-centered teaching environment for his students.

Following are a few words of introduction from Jeff himself:

Hi, I am Jeff Sudol, and I am honored and excited to be the first Guest Moderator of AstroLrner@CAE. I attended my first CAE Teaching Excellence Workshop in January of 2004 in Denver, anticipating a move from the world or research—and wrenches—at the National Solar Observatory to a teaching position at a liberal arts college. I made this move in the Summer of 2005, and, in the Fall of 2005, I started using the learner-centered teaching techniques to which I had been introduced at that Denver CAE workshop. At the end of my first year of teaching, I came to the conclusion that there is a distinct difference between using learner-centered techniques in the classroom and creating a learner-centered environment. The CAE Tier II (Advanced) Teaching Excellence Workshop I attended in Seattle in January of 2007 came just in time to help me learn what I needed to learn to bridge this gap, so I could come closer to my goal of creating a learner-centered environment.

That, so far, has been my path toward my goals. Each of us will take a different path from where we are as instructors to where we want to be based on our own goals. Along the way, we will encounter snippets of ideas and journal articles and books on education, and for a time, these snippets of ideas and articles and books might not seem any more important or relevant than any other—until the moment we are ready for them. In the same way that our students must reach a teachable moment, we, too, arrive at teachable moments. It is then that we need resources: a workshop, a website, an article, a book, or just some advice from a colleague. The goal of AstroLrner@CAE is to connect us with these resources. As Guest Moderator, I will continue to facilitate these connections—ever ready for the pursuit of our teachable moments.

Teaching Strategies Archive

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.

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