Just as there are several styles of learning, there are several styles of teaching. It is the rare instructor who has a teaching style that is well-suited to all learning styles. Alas, I am not one of them.
I teach the only way I know how, which is the way I wish my own teachers had taught – by taking complex and abstract ideas and trying to make them easy to understand and visualize, tying them to real-world experience wherever possible. I emphasize physical insight over pure mathematical derivations. I believe that if you can first visualize what’s actually going on, then the mathematics (and its interpretation) becomes more obvious and less intimidating.
I hate rote memorization, partly because I was never good at it. In my experience, once you understand a concept or principle, you never forget the essential idea, even if you still have to look up the details (e.g., formula). At least in the physical sciences, learning based on understanding is far more valuable than simply filling your head with a vast assortment of disconnected facts.
I have written two textbooks, both of which started out as elaborate lecture notes which I then fleshed out. In both cases, I was unhappy with existing textbooks offerings and felt that something was needed at a level that was more accessible to those seeing the subject for the first time.
Apparently, many other instructors felt the same way, because my textbooks are now assigned at a number of other colleges and universities. Each title sells approximately 600 copies per year, which means that I’m contributing to the professional development of vastly more meteorologists with my books than I ever will with my journal publications.
It’s not uncommon for college instructors to write textbooks. It’s considerably more uncommon for them to also publish them. Inspired by the example of Ronald Rinehart’s Radar for Meteorologists, I undertook the considerable risk (and effort) of self-publishing both of my textbooks. I not only don’t regret the decision, I am convinced that bypassing commercial publishing houses is the way to sharply reduce textbook costs to students while also increasing the rewards for textbook authors.
How many other upper division or graduate level science textbooks do you know that sell to students for $36 per copy?
Current or recent courses
- AOS 100: Weather and Climate
- AOS 330: Physics of the Atmosphere and Ocean I
- AOS 340: Physics of the Atmosphere and Ocean II
- AOS 630: Introduction to Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics
- AOS 640: Radiation in the Atmosphere and Ocean
Courses I don’t currently teach but would like to teach some day
- AOS 5xx: Introduction to Computer Programming for the Geosciences
- AOS 5xx: Atmospheric Measurements
- AOS 7xx: Atmospheric Remote Sensing and Inverse Theory