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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Brandon Dearmond Finley
B CUSP 119
Bothell Campus

Discovery Core III: The Portfolio and Experiential Learning

Evaluates progress at the conclusion of the first year through the construction of a portfolio and offers an experiential learning opportunity, either on- or off-campus. Prerequisite: either B CUSP 115, B CUSP 116, or B CUSP 117; may not be repeated. Offered: Sp.

Class description

The BCUSP 119 course will continue promoting the objectives of the Discovery Core series: interdisciplinary learning, research and communication, and active reflection on your experiences. We will pursue these objectives through the lens of astronomy and a study of the cosmos. We will explore the big topics of the universe - light, space, and time. We'll also discuss the birth and death of stars, planets, and galaxies. We'll look at recent successes and failures in our exploration of space and use these as a way to study our own successes and failures and determine how best to move forward. All of our topics will be tied to the personal reflection that you will demonstrate in the portfolio project.

Student learning goals

In terms of conceptual material, you will know - how properties of light allow us to study the universe, how planets/stars/galaxies are created/live/die, how scientists measure and understand objects they cannot touch, how gravity affects our universe, and why the study of the universe is important.

Students will be able to see how scientific theories influence society and culture as well as how cultural concerns influence the science that is carried out.

Students will continue to improve communication skills (particularly writing) developed in the DC I and DC II courses. This will be accomplished through the use of a portfolio that demonstrates your collected work during your freshman year.

Students will have the opportunity to evaluate and reflect on their progress, academically and personally, during their first college year. They will also have the opportunity to project their experiences into the future and evaluate what interests they may have gained or what conceptions may have changed that could lead them to pursue objectives they did not originally intend to pursue.

General method of instruction

The course will be a mixture of lectures, discussion, thought exercises, and experimentation. The goal is to deliver material in many styles and help you master different types of scholarship.

Recommended preparation

Completion of the DC I and DC II courses. Familiarity with scientific concepts (e.g. gravity, light, etc) will be helpful but is not required. Strong writing and thinking skills will also be helpful.

Class assignments and grading

We will use a range of assignments: 1) The portfolio - the heart of the course. This is where you will demonstrate your research and writing skills as well as discuss your personal reflection and aspirations. 2) Group work - may include short debates, discussions, analysis, or reflection on presented topics. These will mostly be in-class. 3) Research - this is set up as short one page papers you will write and turn in. These will cover many topics and will be used as introductions to material or as summaries of class discussions. 4) Question sets - these will be assigned at regular intervals and will require you to answer questions about the scientific topics presented. These questions are focused on course content (science). 5) Experiments - During one or two weeks we will do some experimental work where you can get a close-up view of the chemistry and physics that is used on a large scale to study the universe (telescopes, spectrometers, etc).

Grades are assigned based on the quality of your work. There are many assignment types: writing assignments, participation in group or class activities, the portfolio, and experimental work. The highest grades will be given for demonstrating an understanding of the scientific concepts presented, clear and logical arguments, persuasive writing skills, and exemplary research skills. Lower grades will be given for work that is sloppy, lazy, or does not show depth of thought or understanding.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Brandon Dearmond Finley
Date: 01/30/2013