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A. L. Traxler, D. J. Batuski, J. R. Thompson, N. F. Comins (University of Maine)
The astronomy laboratory course at the University of Maine consists of weekly lessons in which students work in small groups on computer-based exercises. In this presentation, we discuss research involving a lesson on astronomical time-keeping, including sidereal time, Apparent Solar Time, and time zones. Four multiple-choice questions are administered both pre- and post-instruction to individual students. For the spring 2005 semester, the lesson was altered to incorporate planetarium software for simulating the sky instead of the physical celestial sphere models previously used. This change produced only small gains from pretest to post-test, so a more drastic change to the lesson was planned.
During summer 2005, short interviews were conducted to seek improved distractor answers for the pretest questions. Additionally, a group of students was videotaped while working through the lab in class to observe their interactions with each other and their use of the scientific terms presented in the lesson. Based on these observations and a review of literature, the lesson was redesigned for fall 2005 to focus more explicitly on the desired conceptual content and less on intermediary mathematical manipulations. Results for this modification will be discussed.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.