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ASP2021: A Virtual Conference

ASP2021: A Virtual Conference
Preliminary Schedule

Click here for the Schedule-at-a-Glance

    10:50 AM - 11:40 AM: Concurrent Session 10A: 10:50 am PST (1:50 pm EST)
    Training ASTRO 101 Students to Explain Astronomy: An Innovative Approach
    Conference Strand: Teaching Introductory Astronomy – What are We Doing Now?
    Katie Berryhill, Los Medanos College/Solano Community College/Chabot College
    Abstract of Session/Presentation: ASTRO 101 is a wildly popular choice for general education science requirements. Surveys indicate a quarter million undergraduates per year take the class in the U.S., three times as many as take conceptual physics or multidisciplinary physical science. We also have large numbers of pre-service teachers taking the class, whether they know they're going into education or not (40%, based on surveys of teachers). This means that faculty have an opportunity to affect current students' views of science AND how those views might be passed on to the next generation of students.

    ASTRO 101 students almost always take the course solely as a general education science requirement with no intention of continuing in the field. Of course, faculty often hope that we manage to get some of our students interested enough to become lifelong astronomy enthusiasts, whether gaining new appreciation for the night sky or even becoming amateur astronomers. But what if we were to specifically focus our classes on preparing students to explain the material to others? This would have multiple benefits. First, all students will benefit from the improved learning that comes from teaching others. Second, students who do go on to become teachers will be better prepared to teach astronomy. Third, the people our students interact with, whether their own students, or their family and friends, will experience the joy of learning about astronomy.

    Taking this approach requires a bit of rethinking of a traditional ASTRO 101 course. Assignments can be geared toward explaining to others, rather than to the instructor. Also, we all know that we can't possibly cover all the material in our textbooks, so what topics are best for this approach? In this workshop, you will learn about assignments of this type that have been successfully used that you can adopt, and together we will brainstorm other assignments and topic selections. Bring your ideas and prepare to be inspired to try new things in your own classes.