AAS 202nd Meeting, May 2003
Session 12 Engaging the Public: from Museums to the Classroom
Oral, Monday, May 26, 2003, 10:00-11:30am, 205/206

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[12.07] Do Multicultural Connections Affect Students' Understanding, Interest, and Attitude in an Introductory Astronomy Course for Non-Science Students?

J.R. Percy, N. Chandra, B. Emenogu, C. Tycner (University of Toronto)

Astronomy is rich in multicultural connections, especially regarding the appearance and motions of the sky. But does reference to these multicultural connections affect students' understanding, interest, and attitude, in an introductory astronomy course for non-science students at the post-secondary level? This question is especially relevant in our own culturally diverse city and university.

We divided our course into four tutorial groups of approximately 15 students each. We first administered a questionnaire which collected information about each student's gender, cultural affiliation (if any), and perceived understanding of and interest in astronomy, sky motions, and their possible cultural connections. We also administered a simple distractor-driven multiple-choice test on basic sky concepts.

Two tutorial groups (the experimental groups) were then taught three 50-minute weekly lessons on sky motions, using multicultural connections. The other two tutorial groups (the control groups) were taught the same material, by the same instructor, without reference to multicultural connections. We then administered the same questionnaire and multiple-choice test.

In this paper, we discuss the following: (a) the matching of the experimental and control groups; (b) range of responses within each group; (c) differences between males and females in the pre-test results; (d) pre-test versus post-test changes in understanding, interest, and attitude between the experimental and control groups.

Supported by the Imperial Oil Centre for Studies in Science, Mathematica, and Technology Education, University of Toronto.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #3
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.