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Keith Goodale ’96 Wins Janet Guernsey Award

Keith Goodale
Keith Goodale

Keith Goodale ’96, lecturer in physics, won the 2013 Janet Guernsey Award for excellence in Physics Teaching in April. The award honors Janet Guernsey, a long-time professor of physics at Wellesley College, and is presented yearly by the New England Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers. Mr. Goodale was cited for his professionalism; his high standards in the classroom; his extensive knowledge in the fields of physics, astronomy, and electronics; his mastery of physics equipment in the laboratory; his many successful demonstrations; his PowerPoint introductions to many laboratory exercises and to many topics in physics and astronomy, his hands-on approach to teaching, and his many self-constructed computer tutorial programs.

Mr. Goodale is the College’s resident expert on astronomy. “As an undergraduate at Keene State, Keith developed a true love for astronomy, and it is his passion.” said Professor of Physics Frederick Wolf. “He has cultivated the art of astrophotography and … is the person any one on campus would first consult about questions astronomical. Needless to say, he teaches a number of our astronomy offerings and often conducts viewing sessions for the entire campus.”

Mr. Goodale puts considerable thought and energy into his classes, carefully designing exercises to make physics lessons accessible to students. “In the classroom, he is a strong proponent of hands-on activities (even in a class over 30) and concrete visualization,” Prof. Wolf explained. “To begin a laboratory exercise, he has created many PowerPoint presentations with his own photographs to lead the student through the steps. Likewise, he has created a number of presentations richly adorned with graphics so that our students can focus on the basics.”

Mr. Goodale has an effective, practical approach to teaching. “I employ many hands-on demonstrations to help students visualize concepts and, when possible, have students perform their own hands-on investigations,” he said. “I’ve also developed many student activities, and I’ve written computer software and apps to complement my lectures and labs. These exercises flow naturally from my lectures and are designed to aid in student learning.” Though some lecture is necessary, he realizes that students learn best by doing. “I also believe that there are many valid but different methods for effective teaching, but the common key is to put a lot of energy into your teaching. I strive to bring this energy into each and every one of my classes.”

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