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Next: Introduction

Problem Based Learning in Undergraduate Astronomy

Paul J. Francis$^{1,2}$

$^1$ Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, Australian National University, Canberra 0200
[3mm]$^2$ Joint appointment with the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics


I present a way of adapting the techniques of Problem Based Learning (PBL) to undergraduate astronomy classes. A fictitious astronomical mystery is invented, and presented to the class. The students, working in small groups, propose observations to crack the mystery. The lecturer then simulates the data they would obtain, and gives it back to the students. After several iterations of this cycle, the students hopefully solve the mystery.

Two case studies of this technique are presented and discussed. It is shown that this technique is highly effective at making students think through the subject matter.

Keywords: miscellaneous -- undergraduate teaching

Paul Francis 2001-06-21