LANCASTER, Pa. — The POGIL Project, a national not-for-profit organization that disseminates its unique student-centered pedagogy at the secondary and college levels and provides professional development opportunities for instructors, has named two educators to three-year terms on its Steering Committee. The eight-member POGIL Project Steering Committee provides definition and direction to the goals of The Project.
The two educators are An-Phong Le, Ph.D., Florida Southern College and Mario Nakazawa, Ph.D., Berea College. They will officially begin their terms at the 2021 virtual POGIL National Meeting in June.
“We are lucky to have two talented and enthusiastic practitioners join our Steering Committee this year,” said Project Executive Director Rick Moog. “They bring a wealth and diversity of experience to this leadership team and will be key in helping us to move forward in achieving the goals of our strategic plan.”
Le grew up in Illinois and earned a B.S. in chemical engineering and a Ph.D. in chemistry, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He joined the faculty at Florida Southern College in 2011, where he is currently the Dr. John A. Leighty Endowed Chair in Chemistry and serves as Chair of the Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physics.
He was introduced to POGIL in his last year of graduate school, again by a friend, and a third time by a departmental colleague. Since 2012, he has incorporated POGIL activities in his general chemistry, analytical chemistry, and instrumental analysis courses at Florida Southern. He has started writing guided inquiry activities to support his instrumental analysis and environmental chemistry. He has facilitated Virtual Fundamentals of POGIL workshops and chaired The Project's biennial National Conference to Advance POGIL Practice.
“The POGIL pedagogy has transformed not only what I do in the classroom and in the laboratory but changed how I think about teaching and education more broadly,” said Le. “The POGIL community is filled with role models who inspire me to think more creatively about how we can all better support our students and to be more courageous when trying new things in the classroom. I am excited for this opportunity to help support the work of The POGIL Project and to give back to this vibrant community of passionate educators.”
Nakazawa hails from Tokyo, Japan, and received his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. His interest quickly changed from asking why people act the way they do to seeing if machines can simulate human behavior. Through a series of twists and turns, he studied Artificial Intelligence for a few years before switching and receiving a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Georgia. His research was on how to model data distributions for efficient parallel and distributed computation that combined algorithm analysis with real world issues such how multi-core and networked computers communicate.
He is currently an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Berea College and has enjoyed the challenge of teaching a wide variety of topics ranging from theoretical foundations of computing to its practical applications. His typical teaching load includes both introductory and advanced courses, but his interests also range broadly, having taught courses on writing, digital humanities, and ballroom dancing. He has been using POGIL in his courses since 2007, as the pedagogy complements team-based assignments and projects are ubiquitous in computer science. Nakazawa has been trained as a POGIL facilitator and recently ran one with a colleague at Berea College.
“I am excited to be working to enhance racial equity in the POGIL organization,” he said. “This initiative resonates with the motto of Berea College and my personal conviction that education and effective pedagogy is a gift that all students regardless of their racial and socioeconomic background should benefit.”