ASP2020: A Virtual Conference
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Elevating the Intro Astronomy Course in a Time of Crisis
When campuses shut down and a pandemic ramped up in the US in March, the last thing that was on many students' minds was their general education astronomy course. Even during the fall semester, uncertainty, quarantines, and elevated levels of anxiety were barriers to effective learning. Yet, those science learning goals still need to be fulfilled. This talk will share some of the activities and strategies used in introductory astronomy and astrobiology courses to focus student learning on the most important objective: conveying an understanding of the nature of science. Activities and strategies include synchronous virtual discussions, asynchronous lab activities through gaming, mid-semester restructuring of the syllabus, and asynchronous assessments that probe for deeper learning. Virtual observing experiences were available to reach students in any situation, whereas those who were able to do so found small group observing sessions on campus a true break from the anxieties of life on the ground. Finally, discussion topics that related course content to present-day social issues grounded this course for non-majors in the reality that students are living.
Conference Strand: Online K-16 Teaching & Learning