The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 28th, 2015
"Goodbye," she whispered. And I never saw her again.
The course was introductory astronomy, a popular elective for
students fulfilling a science requirement. After 15 weeks of lectures,
discussions, problem-solving, quiz-taking, and group projects, she and
her fellow students had nearly reached the end. The classroom was mostly
silent as they worked on their final exams. She was done, though. And
before I could even say, "Have a nice summer," she was gone.
Of course, that experience wasn’t with just that one student. It was
with hundreds of them. One after another, semester after semester, they
completed their final exams, said a hushed farewell or thank you, and
left the room to move on with their lives.
That is not how a course should end.
Fast-forward a decade and nearly everything in that scenario is
different. My class size has dropped from 30 students to 20. I’m
team-teaching the course with a professor in the philosophy department.
Instead of covering the entire universe in a semester, we focus in depth
on one topic: astronomers’ search for extraterrestrial intelligence.