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Thursday, October 18 • 9:30am - 9:50am
Bringing Astronomy Alive - Student Engagement at John Abbott College

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Traditional approaches in Introductory Astronomy use a historical evolution of information with relatively static learning outcomes. Part of the reason for this pedagogy is the diverse (typically limited) Astronomy backgrounds of students at the post-secondary level, from no prior exposure (aside from Primary and Secondary curriculum) to budding Astronomers, Astrophysicists and Aerospace Engineers. The role of these courses is typically to share basic information and skills, but often lacks focus on the possibilities (scientifically and career-wise), so that students who have an affinity for space sciences have a starting point to leap onto a career path. Actual observing opportunities, and self-directed learning are valuable tools to engage students directly in areas of interest, and bring Astronomy and Space Sciences alive...moving beyond the classroom.

The approach in our course at John Abbott College puts the depth and direction of content in the hands of the students. Recognizing that, in the digital and social media age most students have some exposure to recent discoveries, and more importantly they have access to information and current data that better represents the direction of space science they will experience, this allows each student to put their stamp on the learning outcomes of the course. Combining this with regular (weather pending), non-compulsory observing opportunities with RASC (Royal Astronomical Society of Canada) - Montreal Centre allows students to embrace the field in a manner that suits their interests and motivation. This has resulted in incredibly diverse term projects, and several initiatives that have moved beyond the scope of the Introductory Astronomy Course, but are being supported through other avenues to foster student engagement. As well, other departments and courses are now taking advantage of the Astronomy activities to engage their students beyond the classroom.

This talk will give an overview of the course setup, a sampling of the student projects and the multi-disciplinary initiatives, and describe some of the student engagement that has moved beyond the scope of the course.

avatar for Karim Jaffer

Karim Jaffer

Student, John Abbott College
I have been at John Abbott College (JAC) since 2006 teaching a variety of Physics and Pathways courses, and began teaching the Introductory Astronomy course in 2016 - including the coordination of Astronomy observing activities, outreach, and all Astronomy-related projects in various... Read More →

Thursday October 18, 2018 9:30am - 9:50am EDT
Room CD Concordia Conference Center, MB Building 9th floor, 1450 Guy St, Montreal, QC H3H 0A1