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Session 6 - Teaching Astronomy.
Display session, Monday, January 15
North Banquet Hall, Convention Center

[6.02] Astronomy in the News: A Non-linear Approach to Teaching Introductory Astronomy

D. B. Caton (Appalachian State Univ.)

The typical "science requirement" course as a university is usually perceived by students as a hurdle to be jumped on the way to a degree that "doesn't need science". This attitude does not help produce an educated person who will continue to follow science and participate in the democratic process with an adequate and current background in technical issues.

In an effort to overcome these problems, the author is experimenting with a non-traditional approach to teaching astronomy to under- graduate non-majors. The traditional, linear approach through any one of the standard textbooks (history->solar system->stars), has been abandoned for a chaotic approach based on astronomical news items appearing in the media. (Indeed, the class' first assignment for this [Winter '96] term is to follow the news from this AAS meeting!). The textbook has been replaced by an encyclopedic book on astronomy, to allow discussion of news in any order.

It is hoped that the result of this approach will be that students will acquire an algorithm for life-long learning, and will continue to follow developments in astronomy long after the course is over.

Program listing for Monday