Edward Prather

Associate Professor, Astronomy

Dr. Prather’s recent publications include:

  • Lecture-Tutorials for Introductory Astronomy, 3rd Edition (Pearson 2012)

Prather is an internationally recognized STEM educator and researcher. He directs one of the nation’s leading research, curriculum development, assessment, and professional development groups in STEM education, which specializes in studying teaching and learning issues in Astronomy, Physics, and Space Science.

For more than 20 years, Prather has focused his scholarly efforts on conducting fundamental research on the improvement of STEM education. He is an award-winning teacher who has pioneered several innovative instructional methods in his courses, which have been taught to approximately 6,000 students in classes ranging from small-enrollment, seminar-style graduate courses to large-enrollment, introductory science courses with more than 800 students. The majority of Prather’s teaching has focused on creating inclusive and collaborative learning environments in large-enrollment, introductory general education Astronomy courses. These courses reach approximately 250,000 students nationally each year and often serve as the final science course in life for the predominantly non-science major population of students enrolled. These students go on to be our nation’s teachers, political and business leaders, artists, journalists, lawyers, parents, taxpayers, and voters. Stemming from his strong commitment to helping these students meaningfully contribute to shaping our society, Prather has dedicated the past decade to investigating unique classroom practices designed explicitly to promote students’ discourse, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities, along with enhancing their self-efficacy and understanding of the role science plays in society.

Prather has led several national research programs to develop and validate active learning instructional strategies and new assessment instruments. These multi-institutional research projects have involved the collaborative efforts of hundreds of faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduate students leading to nearly a dozen PhDs in discipline-based science education research and more than 60 peer-reviewed publications disseminating this work. In addition to authoring a series of books on active learning strategies and making contributions to scholarly books on STEM teaching and learning, Prather has given over 250 invited talks, colloquia, seminars, and workshops on STEM education. Within the Physics and Astronomy teaching community, Prather is best known for facilitating interactive professional development workshops designed to help college faculty better implement research-based active learning instructional strategies into their classrooms. Prather has led hundreds of these workshops across the globe, reaching more than 3,000 college faculty and instructors, resulting in sustained adoptions into hundreds of STEM courses that have reached hundreds of thousands of students over the past decade.

Edward Prather began his STEM career path at the University of Washington, where he worked with the Physics Education Group (PEG) and earned a BS in Physics and Astronomy. Upon completing his undergraduate studies, he accepted a Research Assistantship with the University of Maine – Orono where he completed his PhD in Physics with a dissertation focusing on Physics Education Research.