AAS Meeting #194 - Chicago, Illinois, May/June 1999
Session 102. Training the Next Generation of Professionals: What's New for Majors and Graduate Students
Special, Oral, Thursday, June 3, 1999, 2:00-3:30pm, Continental Ballroom C

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[102.04] A Department-Wide Commitment to Inquiry-Based Teaching

G Greenstein (Amherst College)

In addition to those who plan to become astronomers, many students who major in Astronomy intend to go into other fields. The Five College Astronomy Department has concluded that inquiry-based courses, which teach general problem-solving skills, are particularly appropriate to both classes of student. We have developed a series of such courses. In them lectures are avoided, and students develop their own understanding through seminar discussion of astronomical data presented in extensive software we have developed; software sufficiently rich that they find themselves faced with a wide variety of phenomena. An essential element of this curriculum is that it "belongs," not to any individual, but to the department as a whole. In this way we hope to evade the difficulty facing those curricular innovations which languish once the individual who has spearheaded them looses interest.

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