cara battersby

Submillimeter Array Postdoctoral Fellow
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics



Student learning is significantly improved when using any form of interactive engagement (Hake, R. 1996). While a community-wide shift to interactive teaching techniques will take time, many (astro)physics instructors, including myself, have decided to adopt simple interactive teaching strategies into our classrooms right away.  These include "clicker" questions (Duncan, D. 2006), Think-Pair-Share, and Lecture Tutorials (e.g. Prather et al. 2004).

It is my teaching philosophy to: 1) engage students interactively in order to maximize their learning gains, 2) empower them to answer their own questions – to help them learn how to think so that they can make logical, research-based decisions throughout their lives, and 3) cultivate their inherent interest in science.


Graduate Level Seminar
Co-instructor, ASTR 6000: Graduate Seminar on the Interstellar Medium
University of Colorado at Boulder, Fall 2011

Instructor of Record for an Undergraduate Non-major Astronomy Course
Co-instructor, ASTR 1120: Stars & Galaxies
University of Colorado at Boulder, Summer 2011

Teaching Assistant for ASTR 101: The Solar System
Boston University, Spring 2008

Teaching Assitant for ASTR 117: Cosmic Evolution
Boston University, Fall 2007

Teaching Assistant for ASTR335: Modern Astrophysics
University of Massachusetts Amherst, Fall 2005

Teacher Training

In my >30 workshop hours of teacher training (the Graduate Teacher Program at CU-Boulder), I learned the reasoning behind and best techniques for using interactive teaching techniques. As the instructor of record for an undergraduate non-major astronomy course (ASTR1120), I had a chance to try my hand at implementing these techniques (find me here: FCQ, rated 5.7/6, putting me in the top 15% of all instructors in the College of Arts & Sciences at University of Colorado Boulder). Roughly half of each class period was spent in a traditional lecture, intermixed with thought-provoking "clicker" questions and time for the students to Think-Pair-Share: Think - decide what answer to commit to, Pair - explain their reasoning to a classmate and vice-versa, and Share their final answer and reasoning with the class. A fraction of time (maybe 10-20%) was also devoted to group activities, such as Lecture Tutorias.