Flipping the Cosmos: Using Active Learning Techniques in a Large-Enrollment Astronomy Class

Rebecca Ericson, Mario Gliozzi, Katelynn Fariss, Robyn Meier

Session Information

Year: 2014 | Time: 1:00pm-2:30pm | Location: Interactive


We will demonstrate turning the "cosmos" of general education astronomy upside-down with a studio-style class. Four components that matter:
  • Move what students can do alone: listening, reading, and practice activities outside the classroom
  • Use classroom time to address difficult concepts and techniques
  • Employ learning assistants to engage with students as knowledgeable peers
  • Leverage classroom energy with structured groups and activities that concentrate on examining processes through the lens of specific content. Participants will engage in activities similar to those in our active learning astronomy classrooms. They will work through several short learning activities while presenters circulate to guide and focus the work, demonstrating the flow and structure of a typical class session. Small white boards allow us to simulate "writing on the wall" activities, so we can see quickly where groups of participants are grasping concepts and where they bog down. "Mini-lectures" will highlight some of the technology in the high-tech classroom, as we discuss what worked and what didn't work so well. At several points, we will open discussion so participants can examine how the technique or technology might work for them, regardless of discipline.


active learning classrooms; student engagement; team-based learning; collaborative learning; technology-enhanced learning; STEM education; learning assistants; peer teaching


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