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:
- “He was very competent of the subject and helpful on understanding terms. Also showed enthusiasm and sparked interest in the subject.”
- “Patiently takes the time to try to understand your problems. Works to help you. Overall a great instructor for the course. Nothing bad to say!”
- “Very knowledgeable of the course information, all homeworks and exams graded and returned very quickly and easy to ask questions of him in discussion, great TA cheers Brandon.”
- “Brandon is awesome and proficient in all categories, there is nothing that he can't do. If Brandon was elected president, climate change and world hunger instantaneously solved. #i<3brandon #BrandonForPresident”
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.
- “Very helpful, very prepared, nice guy, and super knowledgeable. Always willing to take extra time out to help.”
- “He explained concepts to me well during lab. I have no background in Astro but he explained so I was able to understand in a patient and clear manner.”
- “He spent a lot of time outside of class to ensure I was able to complete assignments and understand concepts.”
- “Brandon has been a fantastic TF, who's impeccable style and superior intellect were inspiring.”
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.
- “Just saying thanks a lot for another fantastic course provided by edX and staff. Thoroughly enjoyed the videos and interviews and hope to see more of these courses provided in the future.”
- “Thanks also to Brandon for your dedicated participation and support on the forums. I appreciate all the time you invested to answer our questions and guide us through the course. [...] Thank you very much for offering this fantastic course to us.”
- “I wish to thank you all staff for the very informative and enjoyable course. After completing this course I feel absolutely sure that I have a better knowledge of the universe. The presentation was excellent. Especially I want mention the help I got from the staff in the discussion about problems I faced in my interpretation of a few questions. I shall watch out for any similar courses. I read somewhere some time ago that: ‘In a deterministic world trajectories do not meet’. However I very much wish that our trajectories meet again in a new edX course of the Boston University. ”
- “Thank you so much for a wonderful, highly interesting, educational experience.”