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L. A. Lebofsky (Lunar and Planetary Lab., U. of Arizona), N. R. Lebofsky (Steward Observatory)
The University of Arizona has initiated a General Education program for all incoming freshmen. All non-science majors must take two introductory Natural Science courses. At the same time the decision was made to eliminate formal labs, but to require instructors to incorporate lab experiences into their Natural Science courses (which typically have 100 to 200 students). For this reason, we have made an Observing Log a major component of our Natural Science class.
To make the Log more effective, and to use it as an assessment tool in class, we have incorporated an inquiry-based component. We felt that many observing experiences were ``cookbook'' in nature: make an observation and write down what you saw. Ridgeway and Padilla (The Science Teacher, November 1998) developed what they called Guided Thinking. They proposed ``using three-level thinking guides to promote inquiry in the classroom.'' We have incorporated their procedures into our Observing Log Term Project by having students make a series of guided observations that they can link together with what they have learned in the regular classroom setting. We also take advantage of the Teaching Teams program (peer classroom tutors) so that students can make their observations and discuss them in a small-group setting.
A summary of the Observing Log Term Project and examples of student work will be presented.
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