IAU Vienna 2018

XXXth General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union
Aug 20 - 31, 2018

Conference URL: https://astronomy2018.univie.ac.at/home/

Poster presentation by T. Sato

Title: Playing to the Strengths of Non-Majors Students in Astro 101

Abstract: Astro 101 is a generic label for introductory survey courses for non-majors.  A common struggle for instructors of Astro 101 is working with, or around, the students’ deficiencies in science and mathematical preparation.  This paper describes an implementation of Astro 101, now in its eighth year, where the paradigm has been turned around to work with the strengths of the non-major students, rather than focusing on their deficiencies. 
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) is an undergraduate university outside Vancouver, Canada, where all classes are limited to 35 students.  The typical Astro 101 student at KPU is an arts major.  Although the course carries a first-year number, students can be in years 1, 2, 3 or 4 of a four-year degree.  When they enter the Astro 101 class, students typically bring with them skills and experiences exceeding those of typical science undergraduates, in areas such as paper writing, active group learning, public speaking and group presentations.
In this paper, one major course component, the term paper, is illustrated.  The assignment comprises of four elements: proposal, written paper, abstract and participation in a panel discussion. With the small class size, the students have opportunities to work with the instructor on the proposal.  Once the papers are complete, abstracts for the entire class are compiled into a booklet and circulated.  The panel discussion provides a forum for students to share their new knowledge with the class, transforming what might have been a solitary exercise of the term paper into a culminating community experience.