AAS 201st Meeting, January, 2003
Session 88. Undergraduate Astronomy Instruction, Labs and Research
Poster, Wednesday, January 8, 2003, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall AB

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[88.03] An Online Interactive Astronomy Course for Non-Science Majors

T.F. Slater, L.V. Jones, J.M. Bailey, S.A. Jaeggli, A.C. Lee (University of Arizona)

Contemporary science education reforms emphasize the need to build instruction around studentsí pre-instructional beliefs, to foster a productive learning environment for students to interact with information and phenomena, and to provide students with frequent feedback to help them monitor their own learning. Over the last five years, personal computers and the Internet have given students the opportunity to explore actual scientific data sets and use scientific visualization tools in ways that only professional scientists could only a few years before. Taken together, the authors have created a hypermedia learning experience for introductory astronomy that matches Internet technology with how people learn. This course weaves multimedia visualizations into a structured learning environment by dividing complex concepts into bite-size pieces. Each cognitive piece contains hyperlinks explaining all terms as well as illustrated using high-resolution images, animations, and videos which students manipulate to answer questions. Each module helps students engage in the pursuit of astronomy by providing activities where students make astronomical observations. Learners are required to answer pre-module questions, not as multiple-choice questions, but as written narratives, about the concept under study to make their knowledge explicit. At the conclusion, students compare new ideas with their initial answers and evaluate various alternative explanations. Astronomy Online was used as the sole delivery system for a course offered during the Fall 2002 semester. The course was run online; the only class meetings were a single orientation session and three on-campus exams. We compare this with on-campus courses that use highly interactive teaching techniques by studying common examination questions, the Astronomy Diagnostic Test, an attitude survey, and interviews with students.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.whfreeman.com/AOL. 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: tslater@as.arizona.edu

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #4
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.