Proposal Title

Improving Conceptual Learning in Introductory Astronomy through Mental Model Building

Proposal Abstract

Misconceptions about the cause and process of the lunar phases persist for many students. In this project, the authors worked with over 350 students in introductory astronomy and physical science classes. Students completed an observational project based on the Mental Model Building methodology. Students recorded their preconceptions, then used their own 3-D observations of the Moon to build a revised, complete spatial model describing the lunar phases. Project evaluation was done using an established instrument, the Lunar Phases Concept Inventory (LPCI). Detailed analysis of pre- and post-project scores shows significant gains in student learning. Exploratory factor analysis of the LPCI questions indicate that there are two to three themes that can guide project improvements. Item analysis of the LPCI results indicate that most questions act as clear discriminators between the highest and lowest performing students on the post-project test, suggesting that the LPCI is a reliable tool for project evaluation.

Location

Concourse

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

Share

COinS
 
Mar 28th, 4:00 PM Mar 28th, 5:30 PM

Improving Conceptual Learning in Introductory Astronomy through Mental Model Building

Concourse

Misconceptions about the cause and process of the lunar phases persist for many students. In this project, the authors worked with over 350 students in introductory astronomy and physical science classes. Students completed an observational project based on the Mental Model Building methodology. Students recorded their preconceptions, then used their own 3-D observations of the Moon to build a revised, complete spatial model describing the lunar phases. Project evaluation was done using an established instrument, the Lunar Phases Concept Inventory (LPCI). Detailed analysis of pre- and post-project scores shows significant gains in student learning. Exploratory factor analysis of the LPCI questions indicate that there are two to three themes that can guide project improvements. Item analysis of the LPCI results indicate that most questions act as clear discriminators between the highest and lowest performing students on the post-project test, suggesting that the LPCI is a reliable tool for project evaluation.