BRANDON W. HARRISON

Teaching

As a graduate student at Boston University, I have had the great pleasure of being awarded a Teaching Fellowship by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. This has been a very rewarding experience as I have enjoyed interacting with students, teaching them, and learning from them. The following is a list of courses I have been a Teaching Fellow for and some information about my role in them.

AS 105 – Alien Worlds

This course, intended for non-science majors, focused primarily on the burgeoning field of exoplanetary research. The course also explored our knowledge of the Solar System as well as current and past efforts by NASA to further our knowledge. My role in this course was to work with the professor and other TFs to coordinate and manage the class (which topped 200 students!), design weekly lesson plans and teach several weekly discussion sections, as well as instruct and run night labs where students got experience using both reflecting and refracting telescopes. Here are some course evaluations and feedback from the students:

AS 203 – Introduction to Astronomy II

Primarily for science majors, this course is designed to serve as an introductory course on many basic topics of astronomy. Content taught includes the celestial sphere, time and calendars, astronomical instruments and techniques, properties of stars, stellar evolution, the Milky Way galaxy, and galaxies and quasars. My primary role is to teach the requisite day lab sessions where students are introduced to the process of performing scientific research and writing about their results. There is heavy focus on the use of Interactive Data Language (IDL), which I taught in my day labs. The labs that I taught were personally developed by me or else borrowed and improved from labs done in past years.

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) – Alien Worlds

This is an online course offered by Boston University to anybody willing and capable of taking it, for free! It is part of the edX program spearheaded by MIT and Harvard. This course is based on the real university course AS105 (which I have been a TF for, as described above). My role was to help design and create the content for the course which involved collaboration with many groups including the professor, visualization teams, video filming and editing groups, and general administration. I also administered and oversaw the running of the course which entailed making sure the course smoothly and interacting with the 8000 registered students to make sure they got the best possible experience and learned everything they could. The course was launched on 31 October 2014 and ran until 12 January 2015. Feedback from the course was very positive and select student statements are listed below.