Abrams Teaching Award Winner Professor Mark Devlin on Teaching Introductory Classes

"When I started my position in the department of physics & astronomy at Penn in 1996, I had never been in front of a class in my life. I was assigned Introductory Astronomy (Astro 001) for my first course, given a book and told where to show up. I figured I knew astronomy pretty well, how hard could it be?"

Little did I know that a single student can teach you a very important lesson. I had just finished a long discussion on the phases of the Moon. With the wonderful information I had provided, the students would now be able determine the position of the Sun, the Moon and their location on the Earth just by looking at the phase of the Moon. Fantastic! Then she raised her hand. She stated in a very plain and matter of fact voice, “I have no idea what you are talking about.” I must have looked like a deer in the headlights. I was almost paralyzed with terror because, for the life of me, I could not understand why she didn’t understand. Thankfully I was able to stammer through the remainder of the lecture, but I was determined to never get in that situation again..."

To see more click here.