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Graduate Student Spotlight: Daniel Murphy

Ph.D. Student, Physics & Astronomy

“I participated in the CIRTL FUEL course in the Fall of 2021, and it reinvigorated my love of teaching. Before the FUEL course, I understood that teaching was a skill that could be improved, but I had no real understanding of how to improve it. The realization that it can be improved using the techniques I already employ in scientific reasoning was an amazing breakthrough. Now, I am revamping the way I teach Astronomy labs to minimize lecturing at students. Instead, I seek to guide students using clearly stated learning outcomes and try to facilitate discussion wherever possible. The learning outcomes act as guideposts for the students to see where each class is going and act as warning signs if these outcomes have not been achieved. To guide myself, I now like to construct formative assessments as activities that help show student learning in real time. This allows me to clear up misconceptions as soon as possible. The skills I developed in the FUEL course have helped me translate my passion for astronomy into engaging classes that encourage students to participate with me in the act of learning. This participation helps highlight the new ways of thinking that students bring with them. Ways of thinking that I otherwise never would have encountered.  The most rewarding outcome is witnessing the confidence students gain as they explain how they think through problems to one another. So, not only do students emerge from class with new knowledge about the universe, but they also emerge with new skills in communication and confidence in their own abilities. As I continue to learn through CITRL programs and apply what I learned in the FUEL course, I feel like I now have the necessary tools to become the kind of educator I always wanted to be.”

For more information on TLI’s programming specific to graduate students, please visit our Workshops & Events menu and Developing Future Faculty web page.

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