Professional and Biographical Information
Ph.D., Yale University (1968)
B.S., Stanford University (1962)
A.M. (honorary), Amherst College (1983)
A number of years ago I participated in the teaching of one of Amherst's First-Year Seminars. This experience radically altered my approach to education. For obvious reasons, science instruction is normally conducted in the lecture mode. But my experience in this course, which operated as a seminar, persuaded me of the enormous potential of this form of instruction. As a consequence, I have taken a leadership role in the creation of a series of seminar courses in science. There are currently four of these in our department, and they are distributed through every level of the Astronomy curriculum. They employ the techniques of inquiry-based learning, in which it is the students who forge their own understanding of complex scientific issues. Quite aside from these particular courses, even my lecture courses involve a good deal of this kind of pedagogy.
American Institute of Physics/U.S. Steel Science Writing Award, 1984
Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, 1984
Efforts to Improve the Status of Science Education Nationwide. Recently, the American Astronomical Society dramatically increased the attention it pays to the state of Astronomy education in the United States. I have played an active role in this transformation through activities such as membership in a number of national education committees; organizing education sessions at national and international meetings; and helping to obtain NSF funding for, and then co-chairing, a series of workshops on the teaching of Astronomy.