AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 51 Improving Undergraduate Astronomy through Faculty Professional Development and Education Research
Poster, Tuesday, January 11, 2005, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[51.04] Development of the Light Concept Inventory

E. Weeks, K. Brecher (Boston U.), E. E. Prather, T. F. Slater (University of Arizona)

In this era of burgeoning astronomy education research, there is growing need for standardized assessment of both student comprehension of fundamental concepts and new and innovative teaching methods and interventions. The nature of light and the electromagnetic spectrum is the most-taught topic in introductory astronomy, yet students continue to struggle in mastering associated concepts such as Kirchhoff's laws of spectral analysis, blackbody radiation, Wien's law, the Steffan-Boltzmann law, and the nature and causes of emission and absorption lines. We are developing a Light Concept Inventory (LCI) that aims to assess individual students' conceptual understanding of light and spectroscopy within the context of introductory astronomy, to identify and classify misconceptions, as well as to gauge the effectiveness of instructional strategies and materials in modifying these specific initial misconceptions. The development of the LCI is motivated by predecessor instruments such as the Force Concept Inventory (FCI), the Astronomy Diagnostic Test (ADT), and the Lunar Phases Concept Inventory (LPCI), which have been successful in quantifying student conceptual understanding of Newtonian mechanics, basic astronomy concepts, and lunar phases respectively. Like the LPCI, the LCI focuses on a specific subset of astronomy concepts. Supplemental instruments such as these will provide depth to complement the breadth of the ADT. The development process of the LCI follows the techniques of classical and modern test theory to ensure the production of a reliable and valid test. The concept domain addressed by this test is shaped by the concepts that are most commonly taught within the astronomical community and are therefore deemed most important. Preliminary field-testing has taken place and will be followed up by additional testing with a revised version of the LCI in the coming months ahead. B.U. funding is provided in part by NSF Grant # DUE-0125992 and NASA GSRP Grant # NGT5-60482.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 5
© 2004. The American Astronomical Society.