AAS Meeting #193 - Austin, Texas, January 1999
Session 59. Undergraduate Teaching: Members Experiences and Research Results
Education, Oral, Thursday, January 7, 1999, 2:00-3:30pm, Room 8 (A,B,C,)

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[59.04] Integrating Collaborative Learning Groups in the Large Enrollment Lecture

J. P. Adams (Montana State U., Dept. of Physics, NASA Center for Educational Resources (CERES)), G. Brissenden (AAS Education Office, U. Chicago), R. Lindell Adrian (U. Nebraska, Dept. of Physics), T. F. Slater (Montana State U., Dept. of Physics, NASA CERES)

Recent reforms for undergraduate education propose that students should work in teams to solve problems that simulate problems that research scientists address. In the context of an innovative large-enrollment course at Montana State University, faculty have developed a series of 15 in-class, collaborative learning group activities that provide students with realistic scenarios to investigate. Focusing on a team approach, the four principle types of activities employed are historical, conceptual, process, and open-ended activities. Examples of these activities include classifying stellar spectra, characterizing galaxies, parallax measurements, estimating stellar radii, and correlating star colors with absolute magnitudes. Summative evaluation results from a combination of attitude surveys, astronomy concept examinations, and focus group interviews strongly suggest that, overall, students are learning more astronomy, believe that the group activities are valuable, enjoy the less-lecture course format, and have significantly higher attendance rates. In addition, class observations of 48 self-formed, collaborative learning groups reveal that female students are more engaged in single-gender learning groups than in mixed gender groups.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: adams@physics.montana.edu

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