Plenary Speaker Profile (2001-2)
MIchael Zeilik
Professor of Physics and Chemistry
University of New Mexico
Active Learning, Assessment, and Achievement: Transforming the Classroom Environment Or What Did You Learn in School Today?

For reform to expand and survive, we must take dead aim at what is of most value to the instructor: student learning. That requires that we work a class at a time in the context of a larger vision—inquiry learning. To knit that vision in detail, we must interweave active learning, assessment, and achievement in every class as a seamless environment in which all students can learn and learn how to learn. Using specific examples from my introductory physics and astronomy classes, I will show you how to "walk the talk" successfully in your own practice. These include: an overt conceptual structure, cooperative learning teams, formative assessment that is also instructional, and summative assessment aim at improving the learning environment.

This work was support in part by National Science Foundation grant DUE 99-81155

Michael Zeilik earned his A. B. in Physics with honors at Princeton University and his M. A. and Ph. D. in Astronomy at Harvard University. He has been a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, a National Science Foundation Fellow, and a Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Predoctoral Fellow. As a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of New Mexico, he has been named a Presidential Lecturer, the highest award for all-around performance by a faculty member. In his teaching, he specializes in introductory courses for the novice, non-science major student. He is a pioneer in astronomy education research at the university level, and has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Exxon Educational Foundation, and the Slipher Fund of the National Academy of Sciences for innovations in astronomy education, astronomy for the general public, and astronomy workshops for in-service teachers.

Zeilik's research activities have recently focused on astronomy in the historic and prehistoric Pueblo world and a cognitive approach to teaching science. He has served as the Director of UNM's Graduate Centers in Los Alamos and Santa Fe. In 1998-99, he was appointed as a Senior Research Fellow with the National Institute for Science Education. Zeilik has authored four books used internationally: Astronomy: The Evolving Universe (8th edition, Wiley, 1997), Astronomy: The Cosmic Perspective with J. Gaustad (2nd edition, Wiley, 1990), Conceptual Astronomy (1st edition, Wiley, 1993), and Introductory Astronomy and Astrophysics with S. Gregory (4th edition, Saunders, 1998). The 8th edition of Evolving Universe won a 1997 Texty Award from the Text and Academic Authors Association