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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Learner-centered teaching in the college science classroom: a practical guide for teaching assistants, instructors, and professors
Author(s): Margaret Z. Dominguez; Shelby Vorndran

Paper Abstract

The Office of Instruction and Assessment at the University of Arizona currently offers a Certificate in College Teaching Program. The objective of this program is to develop the competencies necessary to teach effectively in higher education today, with an emphasis on learner-centered teaching. This type of teaching methodology has repeatedly shown to have superior effects compared to traditional teacher-centered approaches. The success of this approach has been proven in both short term and long term teaching scenarios. Students must actively participate in class, which allows for the development of depth of understanding, acquisition of critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. As optical science graduate students completing the teaching program certificate, we taught a recitation class for OPTI 370: Photonics and Lasers for two consecutive years. The recitation was an optional 1-hour long session to supplement the course lectures. This recitation received positive feedback and learner-centered teaching was shown to be a successful method for engaging students in science, specifically in optical sciences following an inquiry driven format. This paper is intended as a guide for interactive, multifaceted teaching, due to the fact that there are a variety of learning styles found in every classroom. The techniques outlined can be implemented in many formats: a full course, recitation session, office hours and tutoring. This guide is practical and includes only the most effective and efficient strategies learned while also addressing the challenges faced, such as formulating engaging questions, using wait time and encouraging shy students.

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 September 2014
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 9188, Optics Education and Outreach III, 918806 (15 September 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2061523
Show Author Affiliations
Margaret Z. Dominguez, The Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Shelby Vorndran, The Univ. of Arizona (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9188:
Optics Education and Outreach III
G. Groot Gregory, Editor(s)

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