Teaching

“In every job that must be done,
There is an element of fun.
You find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game.”
Mary Poppins: “A Spoonful of Sugar” by the Sherman Brothers.

I love learning and I love sharing my knowledge. While I cannot learn for the students, I aim to motivate students by sharing my excitement for the topic and by relating topics to their own experience and background to make their learning fun.

Student evaluations make it clear that I connect with students and I am an effective teacher. In addition, courses I coordinate and design have high student satisfaction. I am recognized within the physics department as excelling in teaching, shown by winning the department’s teaching prize twice. I have also shown leadership in teaching by taking an active role in the department’s “Century 2” teaching review committee and leading the redesign of the second-year courses.

Evidence of my success and leadership in teaching are as follows:

  • Led the redesign of entire 2nd year physics program (example 1 below). The work is ongoing, with courses having started well and improving as we adapt the new format. [PDF of report here].
  • I have carried out successful coordination of 1st, 2nd and 3rd year courses, with high student satisfaction of courses I coordinated. The clearest example is for PHYS107/G. Since I made important changes in 2013, student satisfaction rates are over 90%.
  • I have taught astrophysics in classes from 1st to 3rd year (PHYS107/G, PHYS251 and PHYS356), including in these courses the latest astrophysics research including supernovae and gravitational wave events. For PHYS356 I specifically created a new assignment where students were required to estimate the initial parameters for the black hole binaries that were detected in recent gravitational wave detections.
  • In 2016 enrolled in CLeaR’s PGCert in Academic Practice and completed the course in 2017. The knowledge and experience gained in this course was extremely useful when redesigning courses. In future, I plan to become more scholarly in my teaching and contribute articles to education research journals.
  • Led a project on introducing physics students to coding in Python that is funded as one of 2016’s CleaR SEED grants.
  • I have engaged in active mentoring of undergraduate students that are keen to study astrophysics.

In addition, a summary of my most successful teaching styles:

  • I adapt my teaching style to the course content, for example Powerpoint for 1st year astrophysics and “fill-in-the-gap” lecture notes in 2nd and 3rd
  • Include examples and applications from diverse areas, to help students understand and apply new knowledge, such as science-fiction, the martial art of Tae Kwon Do and everyday life.
  • Active use of Piazza on Canvas to help students with assignment problems.
  • Encourage students to attend lectures, despite lecture recordings, by pitching lectures as something more like a rock concert than a music video.
  • Use of music before lectures to lighten the atmosphere, such as science-related music videos that link to the lecture topic (e.g. www.symphonyofscience.com).

Teaching Awards

  • 2018 – Faculty of Science Dean’s Awards for Teaching Excellence for Sustained Excellence
  • 2016 – Physics Department Teacher of the Year.
  • 2012 – Physics Department Teacher of the Year.

Taught courses

2020:

  • ASTRO100/G – Planets, Stars & Galaxies
  • ASTRO200G – Astrobiology
  • PHYSICS203 – Quantum Mechanics
  • PHYSICS753 – Dynamic Universe

2019:

  • PHYSICS107/G – Planets, Stars & Galaxies
  • PHYSICS203 – Quantum Mechanics

2018:

  • PHYSICS107/G – Planets, Stars & Galaxies

2017:

  • PHYSICS107/G – Planets, Stars & Galaxies
  • PHYSICS201 – Classical mechanics and thermodynamics
  • PHYSICS356 – Particle physics & astrophysics

2016:

  • PHYSICS107/G – Planets, Stars & Galaxies
  • PHYSICS251 – Modern Physics
  • PHYSICS261 – Electromagnetism & Optics
  • PHYSICS356 – Particle physics & astrophysics

2015:

  • PHYSICS107/G – Planets, Stars & Galaxies
  • PHYSICS251 – Modern Physics
  • PHYSICS261 – Electromagnetism & Optics

2014:

  • PHYSICS107/G – Planets, Stars & Galaxies
  • PHYSICS231 – Classic Physics
  • PHYSICS251 – Modern Physics

2013:

  • PHYSICS107/G – Planets, Stars & Galaxies
  • PHYSICS231 – Classic Physics
  • PHYSICS251 – Modern Physics

2012:

  • PHYSICS107/G – Planets, Stars & Galaxies

2011:

  • PHYSICS107/G – Planets, Stars & Galaxies