AAS 204th Meeting, June 2004
Session 16 Interactive Education and Peer Instruction in Introductory Courses
Special Session, Monday, May 31, 2004, 10:00-11:30am, 707/709

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[16.02] Creating Interactive Teaching Methods for ASTRO 101 That Really Work

E.E. Prather (University of Arizona), J.P. Adams (Montana State University), J.M. Bailey (University of Arizona), D. Huggins (Rockhurst University), L.V. Jones (Gettsyburg College), T.F. Slater (University of Arizona)

Acknowledging that lecture-based teaching methods are insufficient at promoting significant conceptual gains for students in the introductory astronomy course for non-science majors (ASTRO 101) is only the first step. But then, what can you do besides lecture? The Conceptual Astronomy and Physics Education Research (CAPER) Team at the University of Arizona has been developing and conducting research on the effectiveness of learner-centered instructional materials that put students in an active role in the classroom. With the support of an NSF CCLI (9952232) and NSF Geosciences Education (9907755) awards, we have designed and field-tested a set of innovative instructional materials called Lecture Tutorials. These Lecture Tutorial activities are intended for use with collaborative student learning groups and are designed specifically to be easily integrated into existing conventional lecture-based courses. As such, these instructional materials directly address the needs of heavily loaded teaching faculty in that they offer effective, learner-centered, classroom-ready activities that do not require any outside equipment/staffing or a drastic course revision for implementation. Each 15-minute Lecture-Tutorial poses a carefully crafted sequence of conceptually challenging, Socratic-dialogue driven questions, along with graphs and data tables, all designed to encourage students to reason critically about conceptually challenging and commonly taught topics in astronomy. The materials are based on research into student beliefs and reasoning difficulties and make use of a conceptual change instructional framework that promotes the intellectual engagement of students. Our research into the effectiveness of the Lecture Tutorials illustrates that traditional lectures alone make unsatisfactory gains on student understanding; however, supplementing traditional instruction with the lecture tutorials helps students make impressive conceptual gains over traditional instruction. In addition to the Lecture Tutorials we will discuss our current development of another set of engaging conceptual exercises that may have special benefit in the ASTRO 101 classroom known as Ranking Tasks.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://caperteam.as.arizona.edu. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: eprather@as.arizona.edu

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