Learner-Centered Astronomy Teaching Strategies for ASTRO 101

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2002-07-24
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley

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Supplemental Materials

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This book provides a wealth of astronomy knowledge designed for the non-science major.Presents thorough coverage of thebig ideasin astronomy.For self-study purposes for those interested in astronomy.

Table of Contents

Foreword iv
Michael Zeilik
Preface vii
Goals and Objectives
Teaching for Understanding: Recent Results from Physics and Astronomy Education Research
Designing an Effective Syllabus
Lecturing for Active Participation
Implementing Small-Group Collaborative Learning
Strategies for Writing Effective Multiple-Choice Test Items
Alternatives to Multiple-Choice Tests
Course Evaluations: Finding Out What's Working... and What Isn't
The Teaching Portfolio: Demonstrating Excellence in Teaching
A. Seasonal Stars Lecture Tutorial
B. Sample Think-Pair-Share Questions
C. Astronomy Diagnostic Test
D. Bloom's Taxonomy
E. Collaborative Learning Tasks
F. Sample Learning Objectives
G. Attitude Survey
H. Astronomy Education Research Annotated Bibliography
References 165


Imagine, if you will, an introductory astronomy classroom where all students pay attention during your lectures, come to class having studied the assigned reading, and have thoughtful and insightful questions ready to pose. Because of your carefully planned sequence of topics, they understand the big ideas in astronomy. Because of your instruction, they can answer challenging questions. Because of your contagious enthusiasm, they adopt a positive view about science even though they are predominantly nonscience majors. Is this pure fantasy? Honestly, it might be--nevertheless, some aspects are certainly achievable. But, just what exactly do busy faculty have to do to make progress in this direction?Our goal in writing this book is to present a mix of tried-and-true teaching strategies, results from research in teaching and learning, and some of our own "in the trenches" experiences to help faculty interested in engaging in a process of continual improvement designed to enhance student outcomes and teacher satisfaction. Some of the ideas presented here will definitely work in your course while others will need some, possibly significant, adaptation. To be clear, we are not advocating that all of these ideas must be, or even should be, implemented uncritically. However, we firmly believe that reflecting on how your course might look different, and how your students could be different as a result of your course, is a healthy exercise that too few faculty take time to pursue.Just so you know where we are coming from, we both teach in large-enrollment environments in large universities where our students are nonscience majors, think of themselves as predominantly math and science phobic, and generally enroll for the express purpose of fulfilling a general science requirement. In other words, astronomy seemed like the most painless of the choices available to them. Accordingly, the focus of this book is on this large-enrollment environment; however, it is our experience that most ideas that work at all in very large classes work even better when adapted to smaller-enrollment courses.We both actively conduct research on the teaching and learning of physics and astronomy and allocate considerable amounts of our time to curriculum development. Our thinking about teaching and learning in astronomy has been profoundly influenced by the results of physics education research, which has repeatedly demonstrated that students are often able to convince their professors that they understand a concept when they actually have only a superficial knowledge of it. Further, we have adopted a view that most of our students are not like us--they do not learn best through lectures, no matter how clearly presented, and the questions that most interest us as scientists are not always the same questions that engage nonscience majors. You are certainly welcome to disagree with these perspectives at a variety of levels--certainly even we do not adhere to them 100% of the time--but we state them so that you can understand the nature of our commentary.We would like to thank Dr. Dana Lehr and Dr. Christopher Sirola far their careful review of the first draft of this manuscript and Patricia Daly for her careful copyediting of the final version. Any remaining errors are the fault of the authors.Achieving teaching excellence takes time. It requires honest reflection, careful listening to students, and repeated revision and fine-tuning of approaches. But, what a worthy goal to pursue!

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