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The traditional approach, though ing their natural environment via evidence-based reason- often rich in content, has been found to be less than suc- ing. At the undergraduate level, approximately , cessful in creating positive learning outcomes among the students take an astronomy course each year in the United students themselves Slater, ; Prather et al. States Fraknoi, a. We also have learned effective important part of the public interest.

These cognitive and omy courses occur at community colleges and small 4-yr pedagogical advances have prompted new approaches to colleges Fraknoi, a , where the science faculty are of- teaching undergraduate astronomy courses. Translating ten asked to teach astronomy as one of many science these research results and new approaches into improved courses which they are teaching, and where until recently classroom practice remains a key challenge for astronomy few opportunities have existed for professional develop- education specialists.

Moreover, because these fac- Beginning in the s, the professional societies and ulties teach a variety of courses, their own educational funding agencies that serve the astronomical community background may not necessarily be in astronomy. At both became increasingly involved in this educational reform small colleges and large universities, many astronomy fac- effort Fraknoi and Wentzel, Through their own edu- ulties are being asked to update their pedagogical skills cational activities, and through synergies among these and so evolve away from teaching as they may have been organizations, several programs and forums that support taught.

This review considers some of Received 7 December ; revised 29 November ; accepted 15 February the early endeavors, follows a few prominent programs, ; published online 14 November USA a williamhwaller gmail. Through its played to improve astronomy education at the introduc- educator workshops and conferences, the ASP continues to tory collegiate level. They also examine the ongoing issues play a vital role in advancing formal, informal, and public in introductory astronomy education and review the asso- astronomy education nationwide.

At the Astro level, ciated approaches and resources that have been brought to its series of Cosmos in the Classroom symposia have had tre- bear on these issues. The brainchild of Andrew graduate astronomy education, our general conclusions Fraknoi Foothill College , the series has been hosted by should be applicable to improving introductory under- the ASP every 3 yr since its beginning in These sym- graduate courses in any of the Earth and space sciences. As articu- prize dedicated to college astronomy education—the Rich- lated below, many of the issues, approaches, and resources ard H.

Emmons Award for Excellence in College Astron- in introductory undergraduate astronomy education have omy Teaching. It is beyond the scope of this commentary, how- tion GeoEd program, and other related science education ever, to provide an exhaustive chronological review of all programs. From the mids to , the NSF sponsored the various programs that have been developed to serve Chautauqua workshops for college faculty on a wide range of the pedagogical interests of these faculties.

Indeed, such a topics in science and mathematics. Each workshop typi- chronology would be severely complicated by the fact that cally lasted 3 days, with the participating faculty receiving many of the professional development programs and their partial compensation for their expenses. Instead, the reader is directed to of this vital program, leaving its survival uncertain at best.

Table I, which lists some of the more prominent professio- Currently, the NSF is supporting a digital teaching nal development programs and resources that have been library—the Community for Physics and Astronomy Edu- provided over the past half-century. Publication of the Astronomy Education Review when there was common concern that the United States was originally funded by the NSF but has recently become was falling behind in science and technology.

Waller and T. Slater J. NOVA program involved faculty and administrators curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The CAE also from colleges in professional development via 23 hosts the associated AstroLrner academic discussion group national workshops. The outcomes were more than for college and university faculty Slater, These work- ductory astronomy college and university faculty—though shops focus on dilemmas astronomy faculty often face and admittedly incomplete—indicates two recurrent patterns.

Sec- ond, the professional societies have made key contribu- tions to sustaining many of these programs. Herein is a representative sampling of the issues, approaches, and resources that have emerged in recent years. FIGURE 1: Getting students to take a more active role in their own learning is a key attribute of recent astronomy education reform efforts.

The resulting dynamics and class- explaining, and deliberating over what would happen room strategies can vary by similar degrees Slater et al. In the last decade, considerable attention has been Photo courtesy of Douglas Duncan. This has led to the development of many different techniques and Pasachoff, ; Partridge and Greenstein, ; Zeilik strategies.

These include lecture-tutorials that help stu- and Morris-Dueer, a,b. What should be cov- et al. A survey of 23 textbooks for introductory under- spatial and temporal models to convey key concepts Tay- graduate astronomy courses Bruning, found that the lor et al. Texts average 15 pages of appen- learning see Fig.

Where these Meanwhile, the issue of what should be taught in an textbooks differ is in the various ways they engage the stu- introductory astronomy course continues to evoke contro- dent in thinking and acting like scientists. Some of the differ- versy. Education researchers tend to emphasize the need to ent approaches, as summarized by the textbook authors identify and confront the most basic misconceptions that themselves, are compiled in Bruning Others are more concerned about lar investments with huge multinational companies behind conveying the story of modern space exploration and how them.

To remain competitive, the publishers now provide it has informed our perceptions of the cosmos Pasachoff, lots of ancillary material, including frequently updated Still others advocate for a focus on night-sky literacy websites for the students and complete lesson plans for the with an amateur astronomy emphasis Jacobi et al. They often incorporate the latest Waller, At all levels, their used books back to the campus bookstore.

As the courses have been developed that fully integrate observa- electronic components of astronomy textbooks become tory experiences, laboratory exercises, textbook reading, increasingly important, licensing arrangements may pro- and classroom interactions. By scheduling class times at vide the best solution to reducing overall costs while ensur- night and by designing the classroom to serve as the labo- ing adequate compensation for the publishers and their ratory workspace, instructors can closely link the observa- authors Fraknoi, b.

Waller, While these new technolo- gies have many virtues, they also have several pitfalls. High school students who were enrolled in an astronomy course tended to focus on nuclear fusion as the energy-production process as a defining characteristic of a star, while nonastronomy students focused on characteristics such as size and color. Zirbel, E. Reviews the nature of and source of misconceptions and promotes a conceptual change model of instruction as a means of modifying student beliefs. Partridge, B. Reports on a set of goals for introductory astronomy courses for nonscience undergraduate students developed during two workshops attended by astronomy department chairs and other department leaders.

The goals are broken into two categories: content; and skills, values and attitudes. The content goals are general and do not specify a curriculum or specific topics; instead student development is emphasized over content. The report includes suggestions and strategies on how to meet these goals. A review of 13 educational research studies about Earth's shape and gravity concepts. Describes research instruments and possible models of understanding.

Analysis of the various studies suggests that third graders are too young to unravel their misconceptions about a spherical earth and gravity, but that fourth and fifth graders appear ready to do so. Simonelli, G. Results of an open-ended question about the formation of the solar system given to undergraduate nonscience majors. The most common misconception is that solar system formed as part of the big bang. A comprehensive review of astronomy education research categorized by concept. It provides suggestions for future research. Straits, W. The study used the Astronomy Diagnostic Test ADT 2 to assess achievement, and a question instrument to measure attitudes toward science and instruction as well as self-efficacy.

Activities led to confusion; activities were most effective when they helped students visualize spatial relationships, provided equal opportunity for engagement, and were clearly related to course content. Using a multiple-choice instrument, the study identified misconceptions held by science, mathematics and engineering undergraduates in two college-level courses. The misconceptions were similar to those exhibited by nonscience majors and gains made were similar to those made by nonscience majors in a conceptually based course.

An attitude survey demonstrated a positive, incoming belief that did not alter over one semester, although SME majors had higher initial scores. Casey, T. Mid-course evaluations by individual students and 84 collaborative groups were analyzed according to recurring themes. Individual student evaluations do not differ significantly from those completed by the groups, indicating that instructors can obtain meaningful feedback from a smaller number of surveys completed by groups.

Cabanela, J. Presents a statistical description of the astronomy major in 61 U. Physics requirements for the astronomy major are fairly uniform from institution to institution, but astronomy requirements have substantial variation. There is little difference, on average, between requirements at 4-year colleges versus universities.

Understanding the Phases of the Moon: An Astronomy Tutorial by Paul A. Heckert

Morrow, C. Seven common misconceptions about the National Science Education Standards were identified during educational activities with scientists. While some of these ideas stem from a lack of awareness and are easy to address, others are based in deeply rooted beliefs and experiences. Misconceptions relate to the nature and use of the Standards as well as their relationship to scientific research. Early development of the ADT. Miller, E. Three male and three female non-science undergraduate students were interviewed in an effort to gain insight into why males score higher on the pre-test of the Astronomy Diagnostic Test ADT.

The study reveals that female students consistently estimate the scale of the universe to be smaller, especially outside the solar system; have less confidence about their answers, even when they are correct; and have less previous exposure to astronomy through media sources and public outreach events. Offerdahl, E. Four different open-ended surveys administered to middle-school students, high-school students, and undergraduate science and non-science majors showed that students understand, across grade-levels, that life can exist without sunlight, life requires at least intermittent water, and life forms can exist in extreme cold.

They were largely unable to articulate any scientific reasons for their beliefs and almost always referred to macro-organisms rather than to the more ubiquitous micro-organisms. Describes the enrollment in introductory astronomy classes across the U. The main source of data is the American Institute of Physics survey of physics and astronomy departments. Deming, G. Pre-course surveys were taken by students; post-course surveys were taken by students.

Females scored consistently lower on the test than males.

Hufnagel, B. Describes the development process and the ADT and its reliability and validity testing. Describes the transfer from one institution to another of a course using concept mapping as a central focus of its educational model. At the second institution, cooperative learning teams were used in one section and not in a second. In both cases, the second institution gains in concept map assessments was the same as at the original institution, indicating that the educational model can be transferred to different institutions and instructors with success.


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Brissenden, G. Provides a practical how-to guide for doing assessment of student learning. Presents several assessment techniques to help instructors evaluate which course goals are being achieved, to help guide students toward desired learning outcomes, and to improve student self-evaluation of understanding. Adams, J. Observed the behavior of undergraduates in an introductory astronomy course; the students self-formed 48 groups.

Their observed behaviors were described as: actively engaged, watching actively, watching passively, and disengaged. Male behavior is consistent regardless of the sex-composition of the group. Females were categorized as watching passively or disengaged when working in groups that contained uneven numbers of males and females either females in the majority or the minority. Australian Science Teachers Journal.

The Cause Of Moon Phases Lecture Tutorial Key

Skam, K. Students believe that moon phases are caused by Earth's shadow. Used a card-sorting approach where students are given cards with statements and are challenged to state whether they agree, do not agree or do not know. Finegold, M. Survey of students ages years from 12 schools using a item multiple-choice instrument; items use distractors representing four frameworks that appeared in initial interviews: pre-scientific, geocentric, heliocentric and sidereal.

Smith, C. High proportion of Australian students aged 8 to 13 believe a planet's gravity is related to its distance from the Sun, and that the Sun influences not only the planet's orbit but its surface gravity as well. Many students also believe that a.

Items where Subject is "Astronomy Education Research"

Cognitive Development. Samarapungavan, A. Indian children were interviewed. In places where both folk and scientific cosmologies are accessible to the children, aspects of the folk cosmologies are often incorporated into the children's ideas. Hyderabad children often describe a spherical Earth supported by a body of water, a description that is not found in American children's initial cosmologies. Cognitive Psychology. Vosniadou, S. Sixty students from first, third and fifth grades were asked questions about the shape of the earth; students responded with conflicting ideas about the roundness of earth and that it has an edge over which people could fall, suggesting that their model is not that of a sphere.

Cognitive Science. Surveys 60 students from first, third and fifth grades about the cause of day and night; the youngest children formulated explanations describing rising and setting based upon everyday experience, whereas older children used a model of a moving earth with a fixed Sun and Moon. Only a small portion of older children described mental models consistent with scientific explanations. Developmental Science. Nobes, G. There were no significant differences in performance after accounting for language differences.

Evidence suggests that children hold fragmentary knowledge rather than mental models, as suggested by previous researchers. EOS Transactions. DeLaughter, J. European Journal of Psychology Education. Diakidoy, I. They held models to explain the Earth and seasons similar to students in previous studies. Earth as a hollow sphere was preferred, being closest to the description of Earth in Lakota mythology. European Journal of Science Education. Osborne, R. Describes a highly effective and systematic interviewing strategy appropriate for investigating student conceptions finding students have misconceptions about gravity.

European Journal of Teacher Education. Kallery, M. Possible effects on the teachers' students are discussed. Human Development. Schoultz, J. Review of research on Earth's shape and gravity, primarily by Vosniadou and colleagues, from a framework of situated cognition. Innovative Higher Education. Hemenway, M. Compares two instructional approaches to introductory astronomy for undergraduate nonscience majors.

However, student attitudes and self-efficacy did not show significant improvement in either course. These results were validated with classroom observations and interviews. International Journal of Science Education. Taylor, I. Reviews a four-phase instructional strategy that deliberately promotes mental model building regarding the Sun-Earth-Moon system.

Multiple data-collection strategies suggest that this strategy is effective but that all four phases are required. Most of the students had moved to scientific understanding by the end of the unit. Bakas, C. A virtual environment was created to support the teaching of planetary phenomena, such as the day night cycle and change of seasons. Results of a multiple choice questionnaire administered to year-old students show that the majority of students modified misconceptions concerning the day-night cycle and seasons. Dove, J.

An analysis of student answers about simple astronomical events: a case study," International Journal of Science Education , 24 8 , A majority of students are able to explain why stars seem to move across the sky but not the direction of that motion.

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Barnett, M. Interviews, students work, and conceptual surveys were used to investigate the effectiveness of an elementary, projectbased, space-science curriculum. Results suggest that scientific views can be achieved by elementary students with this type of instruction, which focused on helping students to identify their own ideas and reflect on how those ideas changed over time. Trumper, R. Abell, S. After a six-week structured observation of Moon phases, preservice elementary education teachers realized that scientists make observations and generate patterns, but failed to recognize that observations could precede or follow theory building.

They were largely unable to relate the activity to the nature of science. Students seemed to value the social dimensions of learning but were unable to apply them to the enterprise of science.

Introduction to Astronomy: Crash Course Astronomy #1

Roald, I. A study of objectual conceptions among Norwegian deaf and hearing pupils," International Journal of Science Education , 22 4 , Describes the conceptual understanding of earth's shape and gravity; shape and comparison of Sun, Moon and stars; day and night cycle; seasons; phases of the Moon, as held by deaf ages 7, 9, 11 and 17 years and hearing students age 9 years; no difference was found between the two populations. Parker, J. Interviews conducted in and diagrams produced during a teacher-training program in England demonstrate that providing teachers with necessary skills and confidence to teach an understanding of basic astronomical events is much more complex than simply explicating science-content knowledge.

Sharp, J. Interviews of 42 and year-olds reveals their ideas about Earth's shape, the Sun, Moon, solar system, stars, daynight cycle, seasons and lunar phases. Despite students' factual and procedural knowledge, they were still influenced by common sense ideas or direct observations that contradict scientific theory. Arnold, P. Drawings of earth created by children aged 7 to 11 were identified as one of six classifications. Baxter, J.

Many student ages conceptions are consistent across cultures. In addition, their ideas and explanations for sky events closely resemble ideas widespread in the middle ages and these ideas can evolve similarly to historical development with carefully sequenced instruction. Jones, B. Students in the 6th grade were more likely to choose models and place them in locations that reflected the real shapes, sizes and spatial relationships between the Sun, Earth and Moon that were 3rd graders.

Journal of College Science Teaching. Allain, R. Studied use of an automated online homework grading system and its effect of exam scores. While students reported spending more time preparing for the class when the homework was used, there was no difference in scores between groups that used the system and those that did not. Christensen, T.

Presents results from a study of cooperative learning activities on score improvement from mid-term to final exam. Description of the implementation of collaborative learning groups in a student introductory astronomy course. Using focus group interviews and end-of-semester questionnaires, the implementation details were refined over several semesters. The majority of students believed they were learning more through the use of the activities than they would through lecture alone.

Lessons learned are also presented. A series of astronomy action research studies including a high correlation between student self-report knowledge and examination scores. Bisard, W. Aron, R. Males score significantly higher than females at high school and entry-level college but the differences disappear for upper division college and at middle school level. Upper division students scored highest with elementary-education majors scoring about the same as middle and high school students.

Students incorrectly note the Sun's position in the sky, the cause of the Moon's phases, the boiling point of water and the origin of magma, but did not struggle with seasons. Journal of Educational Research. Rollins, M. Surveys high-school seniors; students in suburban schools who have more science perform significantly better than students from small rural schools or students who had less than two years of science coursework.

Most students were unsuccessful in relating basic concepts of seasons to higher order concepts. Journal of Geoscience Education. Salierno, C. Novel misconceptions concerning sunlight reaching the earth and the effect of greenhouse gases are identified.

Literature review of astronomy education research organized by the National Science Education Standards content learning objectives, divided by grade levels. It also proposes future areas of research. Survey performed four years after in-service teachers elementary and middle school took a special astronomy course using constructivist approach. Attitudes and confidence toward teaching astronomy did not decline during this time, implying that properly designed courses have long-term effectiveness.

Participants had improved attitudes toward teaching astronomy and made significant gains in astronomy knowledge. Schoon, K. Cross-age study of 1, elementary, secondary and adult students U. Journal of Research in Science Teaching.

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Tsai, C. A quasi-experimental study was conducted with 9th grade students in Taiwan on the cause of the seasons to compare traditional instruction with conflict map instruction. Kikas, E. Findings showed not only various misconceptions but also differences between phenomena and type of teacher. Etkina, E. Gifted high school students participated in a program to learn about contemporary science and its methods. Shin, N. This study compared the problem-solving skills required for solving well-structured problems and ill-structured problems in the context of a multimedia astronomy environment with 9th grade students.

Open-ended questions were used to assess students' abilities. Domain knowledge and justification skills were significant predictors of well-structured problem-solving scores, whereas ill-structured problem-solving scores were significantly predicted by domain knowledge, justification skills, science attitudes, and regulation of cognition. Trundle, K. Interviews were conducted with preservice teachers who received instruction on moon phases through an inquiry-based physics course, and a control group that did not. Results indicate that without the instruction, most preservice teachers were likely to hold alternative conceptions and that the instruction appears to be more effective than instruction previously reported in the literature.

Akerson, V. Teachers' elicitation of elementary school students' astronomical ideas improves with experience and content knowledge. Less experienced, less knowledgeable teachers tend to squelch students' idea generation. Barab, S. In college students, rich understanding of astronomical phenomena specifically the earth-sun-moon system is enhanced through student-created 3-D modeling and scientific inquiry using these models.

Students worked in teams and the teacher acted as facilitator. Brickhouse, N. W, Dagher, Z. Clinical interviews with five students suggests that a focus on evidence and testable theories can impact the extent to which students demand and examine evidence, integrate scientific and religious views, and distinguish between scientific and nonscientific theories. Students can discuss individual theories more readily than they can explain what theories are and what constitutes justifiable evidence.

Stahly, L. Third grade students have scientifically accurate, and alternative, concepts about lunar phases. Conceptual change teaching strategies facilitate acquisition of scientifically accurate concepts for some students. Based on interviews and observations of 4 third-grade students pre- and post-instruction. Sadler, P. Multiple-choice tests that use common alternative conceptions as distractors may be useful for tracking development of students' scientifically accurate concepts. Includes implications for curriculum developers.

The study included middle and secondary students, who showed that they often progressed from an inaccurate idea to a different inaccurate idea along a predictable path to a scientifically accurate understanding. Atwood, R. Study of 49 preservice elementary teachers demonstrates widely-held misconceptions about seasons; most common explanation is changing earth-Sun distance. Many students gave inconsistent written explanations as compared to verbal explanations, suggesting misconceptions about seasons might not be as firmly entrenched as commonly thought.

Barba, R. In-service teachers are more content knowledgeable in earth and space science than pre-service teachers. In-service teachers also use fewer steps to solve related problems. Johnston, K. Authors model student grades in introductory, college-level astronomy based on engaged time. Results show not all time-engagement is equal, affecting the accuracy of the model. Mallon, G. At smaller planetaria seats , "participatory oriented" planetarium programs are more effective, with respect to content and attitude, than traditional "Star Show" programs for year-olds.

Lu, P. In introductory astronomy lectures, hierarchically presenting concepts leads to greater student learning than does presenting an overview of concepts which are then discussed in turn. Wooley, J. Women in an introductory, college-level astronomy course exhibited lower learning gains and attitudes than male while using computer-assisted instruction. Speculated reason: too mechanical and impersonal. Sunal, D. Classroom instruction alone is better than one-visit planetarium units at improving elementary content knowledge; combined planetarium-classroom units are best.

Planetarium visits have better affective results. Yost, M. There is very little consistency at each grade-level 4th, 5th, 6th as to what science textbook authors think students should learn about astronomy. Janke, D. Paper includes a rank-ordered list of 52 earth science concepts "important for inclusion in the K science program. Strope, M. Journal of Science Education and Technology. A questionnaire of 19 questions given to a total of students in college preservice training for future high-school teachers showed that science and nonscience majors held a series of misconceptions on several central topics in basic astronomy.

Journal of Science Teacher Education. Students recorded daily Moon observations in journals; then they identified patterns, made predictions and offered explanations. They recognized the role of observationin science but could not articulate the different roles that observation plays. Also, they could recognize the role of collaboration in their learning process but not in the work of scientists. Learning and Instruction.

Comparison between textbook-based instruction and instruction that took students' preconceptions about the shape of Earth and the day-night cycle into account was made for 63 fifth-grade students in Cyprus. Although the textbook-based instruction did not facilitate significant conceptual gains on a multiple-choice instrument, students who experienced the experimental instruction showed higher gains.

Longitudinal study of 20 students, initially aged , over four years. The students were interviewed about the daynight cycle and seasonal changes, astronomical definitions and scientifically accurate explanations of astronomical phenomena. Two months after instruction , students could generally recall the scientific explanations provided in class. Four years later, students could only describe common astronomical events and virtually none of their classroom given scientific explanations. These long-term results were the same for older students who had virtually no classroom experiences in astronomy.

De Robertis, M. Survey of college freshmen show poor understanding of differences between science and pseudoscience. Arts and science majors show little difference. Schatz, D. Case studies of four students aged, 17, 19, 20 and 20 suggest that students readily misinterpret a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram as showing that stars literally move through space and that larger-diameter stars such as red giants always have more mass than smaller-diameter stars regardless of their evolutionary state. Physics Education. A questionnaire of 19 questions given to 76 students entering an 'Introduction to astronomy' course at university showed that the students held a series of misconceptions on several central topics in basic astronomy.