Inquiry Learning: Developing An Undergraduate Astronomy Experience Using Laboratory And Research Experiences

PI: Art Alt, General Sciences, University of Great Falls

The basic requirement for education at the university level is to have students gain the ability to be critical thinkers, with a well-developed problem- solving ability, a firm grasp of analytical reasoning, and the ability to present their ideas in a clearly written and oral style that effectively communicate the results of any investigation done. To accomplish all three goals, every student, regardless of major, should have laboratory and research experience as an integral part of their college studies. At the University of Great Falls, the goal is to introduce students at even the freshman level such a combination of experiences.

It is proposed that for each class that has a major component of astronomy, there will be introduced an extensive laboratory and research component. In developing their met-cognitive skills, they will design their own research experience, learning to understand their own ideas of what constitute truth in the study of science, how to formulate research ideas, gather data relevant to their purpose, and compare/contrast alternative hypotheses to arrive at valid conclusions. To do this, I will be reorganizing eight classes that I offer at the University dealing with astronomical topics. The labs developed, designed around the use of telescope, CCD camera for photographic work, spectroscopic observations on parts of the observable universe, and the integrating use of computers for gathering and analyzing data, will total five for each class, with little or no repetitive use of laboratory material.


Contact Information

Mail: Art Alt
General Sciences
University of Great Falls
Great Falls, MT 59715
E-mail: Art Alt
Phone: (406) 761-8210

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Updated September 19, 2014