Faculty of Distinction: Jeff Goodman

Senior Lecturer, Department of Curriculum & Instruction
  • Dr. Jeff Goodman

Jeff Goodman ’93 is not above sticking his head in a bucket of water to illustrate the principle of displaced volume. Or, to teach about light and color, to turn his classroom literally into a camera obscura, blocking all but a pinpoint of light and flipping his students’ viewed world upside down and backwards.

This Reich College of Education professor is all about the experience of learning. Using props such as glowing pickles, flaming Gummy Bears™ and juggling pins –always encouraging his students to join in – Goodman makes learning memorable because the concepts he teaches become tangible. “More importantly,” he said, “the activities strengthen the class community so that when we talk about (what we’ve learned) and share personal experiences, we are more open to one another and more likely to make meaning from the discussion. And,” he added, “we laugh a lot.” 

The former Harvard University undergraduate believes laughter builds classroom community. “I don’t mind looking silly,” Goodman said, “to set the tone for the class and to connect students to one another.” He cites one exercise designed to differentiate emotion and complex cognitive brain activity: students cast as cavemen clutch rocks and chant “limbic system! limbic system,” while classmates with extended pinkies hold tennis balls and sing “prefrontal cortex.” Silly? Sure. Memorable? You bet.

Goodman, who holds a master’s in educational media from Appalachian, also is tuned into evolving learning/teaching models. He helped develop one of the Reich College of Education’s core classes, Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age, which examines how emerging technologies are transforming our society and schools, as well as the implications these changes have for teaching and learning.