AAS 197, January 2001
Session 86. Innovations in Teaching Astronomy I
Joint Display, Wednesday, January 10, 2001, 9:30am-7:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[86.04] Clarifying Misconceptions in College Astronomy Classes using Concept Maps

G. S. Burks, M. Alvarez (Tennessee State Univ.)

It is a challenge for the instructor of an undergraduate astronomy course to address student misconceptions. How do we know what the students are learning and how they are putting it together? Standard testing procedures, both multiple choice and open ended, are of limited effectiveness in telling us where the students are missing the point. We find that concept maps are effective at showing what the student thinks and understands. To help students better understand the universe concept maps were used to negotiate misconceptions and faulty linkages among and between concepts under study with undergraduates enrolled in astronomy. During a semester course in astronomy, students were taught and then they constructed their concept maps on the computer using a software program, Inspiration 5.0, and then sent them electronically for review and feedback. The astronomy professor reviewed these maps and posted feedback concerning any misconceptions, faulty linkages, or further explanations that need elaboration. These maps were then sent back to each student for revision. End of the semester findings indicated that these maps served to better clarify student misconceptions. Students can be asked to make a concept map as part of an exam. This proves to a very effective way to assess student misconceptions, and gives the instructor information that can be used to improve student understanding by showing common student misconceptions. These misconceptions can be addressed specifically in a later class period. Improved communication between the student and teacher result in more understanding of topics, rather than just memorization.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://explorers.tsuniv.edu/. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: burks@coe.tsuniv.edu

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