University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Thursday, October 27th 2016
Speaker: Trevor Knuth and Cornelia Lang, University of Iowa.
Subject: (Lang) The Big Impact of Big Ideas Courses at U Iowa – Creating and Teaching

In this talk I will describe the "Big Ideas" courses that have
recently been successfully piloted at the University of Iowa. These are undergraduate courses aimed at first year students. These courses fulfill a variety of the general education requirements and each are centered around one theme or current issue. The course "Origins of Life in the Universe" is the first Big Ideas course developed and is taught by 5 faculty across 4 departments. The course centers around Big Questions such as "What is the origin of the universe?", "What is the origin of the Solar System?" "What is the
origin of humanity?" All faculty contribute to the curriculum, which is developed together and features inquiry-guided activities taught in active-learning classrooms. Students report a high level of engagement with the course, strong satisfaction and an appreciation for the role science plays in society. The model for "Origins of Life in the Universe" has been used by the other "Big Ideas" courses and the hope is to expand the program to serve 1/4
of incoming students at the University of Iowa.

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