Comparative Planetology: Study Leaders

Each course participant acts as a Study Leader for one class module. The purpose of incorporating Study Leaders into this course is to gain experience leading a learning group into "unknown territory." This is critical to implementing inquiry-based learning.

Before the course begins, participants select a module for this task. If a module isn't requested by the beginning of the first week, one will be assigned. Participants will work with a small team of Study Leaders for their module.

During your tenure as study leader, you are not expected to teach the module. Your role is to facilitate discussion, and lead your teammates though activities. You are a study leader for this module, not an instructor.


Expectations for this class assignment include:

1. Complete a study guide for your module.

You may divide the reading material into sections, or decide to work with your group collaboratively. You will need to read the material in advance so you can submit your draft one full week before the unit begins. Your study guide should include:

  • a summary of the reading material for the week
  • suggested discussion questions related to the material
  • a list of online resources, including links, related to the reading material, and
  • any additional information that will help other students understand the reading.

You will NOT need to develop activities or assignments. The instructors will do this.

2. Monitor the class discussion.

You should respond to messages from other students, keep discussions on topic and present probing questions to encourage and maintain meaningful discussions.

3. Lead team activities.

Participants who are not Study Leaders for the module will be assigned into activity groups with one Study Leader assigned to each group. It will be your responsibility to facilitate team interactions; first about the reading material, and then to guide the unit activity. It is strongly suggested you assign roles and/or responsibilities to other team members for the activity. Please bring any discussion items which appear in team conferences that are relevant to the entire group to the module's general discussion conference. Any problems should immediately be brought to the course instructors.

4. Submit a summary.

No more than one week after your module is completed, you will post a final message to your discussion conference that summarizes the discussion and group activity for the class. This can be done as a team or individually. Also post a private message to "HW Submissions" (the course instructors) that indicates what worked, what didn't, what problems you experienced, and what you learned from being a Study Leader.


For the module in which you are a Study Leader, you will NOT need to submit homework questions on reading material, but you will need to be familiar with the assigned tasks as you will be expected to participate, lead group discussions and team activities. You WILL need to submit the results for activities and participate in team projects.

This assignment counts for 25% of your grade. Be prepared devote extra time preparing for, executing, and following up your module.


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Montana State University

last updated 5/5/99