AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 80. The Astronomy Diagnostic Test: Development, Results and Applications
Special Session Oral, Tuesday, January 8, 2002, 2:00-3:30pm, Georgetown West

[Previous] | [Session 80] | [Next]

[80.04] Using Educational Research to Modify Instruction in an Introductory Astronomy Class

M. K. Hemenway, W. J. Straits (U TX-Austin), R. R. Wilke (Angelo State U), B. Hufnagel (Anne Arundel CC)

In teaching introductory astronomy for non-science majors, course content is often mainly directed by the chosen textbook and the delivery on the style of the instructor. In this case, the instructor (MKH) chose to incorporate innovative instructional techniques to include "hands-on, minds-on" instruction within the lecture setting in the fall 1999 semester, and to conduct a scientific study to maximize the effectiveness of this change. In addition to modification of the lecture, various classroom activities involving pairs of students or small groups were added. (There was no attached laboratory section.) The Astronomy Diagnostic Test was one tool used to discover student attitudes and knowledge gain. The educational research also involved classroom observations, personal interviews, and pre-instruction/post-instruction administration of the Texas Attitude Survey. In response to the results of this study, the instructor modified instruction in a subsequent semester. Student scores for the second course showed significant improvement in the students' grasp of astronomy content and their assessment of the course in the University's course survey.

Support from the University of Texas at Austin College of Natural Sciences Discovery Learning Project and the Astronomy Department Cox Fund is gratefully acknowledged.

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

[Previous] | [Session 80] | [Next]