AAS Meeting #193 - Austin, Texas, January 1999
Session 34. Teaching Astronomy in Colleges and Universities
Display, Thursday, January 7, 1999, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibits Hall 1

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[34.13] Student Ideas and Introductory Astronomy: the Sun as a Star

Beth Hufnagel, Grace L. Deming (UMd)

A professor who knows the ideas typically held by her students can use them to help the students construct a coherent model. Otherwise, each student is likely to construct a model which makes sense to the student, but is unanticipated by the professor. The student model may be missing a key idea (which the student knows but did not consider) or include irrelevant ideas.

One of us (BH) conducted in-depth interviews of ten representative introductory-astronomy students to discover their typical ideas about the Sun. For example, before instruction many of the students drew on their understanding of the planets to construct a model of a hot, gaseous Sun that does not require an internal energy source. We then incorporated these student ideas as distractors into multiple-choice questions given later as test questions.

This is part of a national collaboration to develop a database of conceptual multiple choice questions, available to educators to assess their students' preconceptions, measure the effectiveness of instruction, and compare their class's results to published baselines.

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation through Grant DGE-9714489.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: hufnagel@astro.umd.edu

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