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Using Research on Student Difficulties as a Foundation to Enhance Teaching and Learning in Introduct

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Title: Using Research on Student Difficulties as a Foundation to Enhance Teaching and Learning in Introduct


1
Using Research on Student Difficulties as a
Foundation to Enhance Teaching and Learning in
Introductory Astronomy A Progress Report
  • Tim Slater
  • Montana State University
  • Department of Physics
  • Conceptual Astronomy and Physics
  • Education Research (CAPER) Team
  • Email tslater_at_physics.montana.edu
  • Supported in part by NSF Geoscience
  • Education 9907755 and CCLI 9952232

2
The Difference Between Astronomy and Astrology
Welcome to ASTRO 101 Before we start, are their
any questions?
Yeah, what makes astronomy different from
astrology??
3
The Difference Between Astronomy and Astrology
  • lots and lots of math
  • (and when is the course drop date anyway?)

4
How often do you hear the following from your
students?
  • I just cant do science!
  • I just cant do math!
  • I understand your lectures and the readings, but
    I cant do the homework.
  • I did all of the homework three times, but I
    cant do well on your tests.
  • I just cant do history!
  • From a teaching and learning perspective,
    just what is it that makes astronomy different?

5
What is Physics and Astronomy Education Research
(PAER) anyway?
AER is using the systematic methods of repeated
observation and theory-testing used in
astronomical research to improve student-learning
and student-attitudes.
6
Some interesting results from the Astronomy
Diagnostics Test (ADT) http//solar.physics.montan
a.edu/aae/adt/
  • Imagine that you are building a scale model of
    the earth and the moon. If you uses a 12-inch
    basketball for earth and a 3-inch tennis ball for
    the moon, how far apart should they be placed to
    represent the proper distance scale?
  • a) 4-inches (1/3 foot)
  • b) 6-inches (1/2 foot)
  • c) 36-inches (3 feet)
  • d) 30 feet
  • e) 300 feet

7
Some interesting results from the Astronomy
Diagnostics Test (ADT) http//solar.physics.montan
a.edu/aae/adt/
Imagine that you are building a scale model of
the earth and the moon. If you uses a 12-inch
basketball for earth and a 3-inch tennis ball for
the moon, how far apart should they be placed to
represent the proper distance scale? 8 23 41 18
9
Imagine that you are building a scale model of
the earth and the moon. If you uses a 12-inch
basketball for earth and a 3-inch tennis ball for
the moon, how far apart should they be placed to
represent the proper distance scale? 8 23 41 18
9
  • Imagine that you are building a scale model of
    the earth and the moon. If you uses a 12-inch
    basketball for earth and a 3-inch tennis ball for
    the moon, how far apart should they be placed to
    represent the proper distance scale?
  • a) 4-inches (1/3 foot)
  • b) 6-inches (1/2 foot)
  • c) 36-inches (3 feet)
  • d) 30 feet
  • e) 300 feet

8
Astronomy Diagnostics Test (ADT)
  • If you could see stars during the day, this is
    what the sky would look like at noon on a given
    day. The Sun is near the stars of the
    constellation Gemini. Near which constellation
    would you expect the Sun to be located at sunset?
  • A) Leo C) Gemini E) Pisces
  • B) Cancer D) Taurus

9
Astronomy Diagnostics Test (ADT)
  • If you could see stars during the day, this is
    what the sky would look like at noon on a given
    day. The Sun is near the stars of the
    constellation Gemini. Near which constellation
    would you expect the Sun to be located at sunset?
  • A) Leo C) Gemini E) Pisces
  • B) Cancer D) Taurus

11
73
10
Results from Spring 1999 Pre-Course Scores by
Gender
Female Male N 825 683
Mean 28 38 Std. Error 0.4 0.6
  • Gender matters.

11
  • 1. Seasons depend on the distance between the
    Earth Sun
  • 2. There are 12 zodiac constellations
  • 3. The constellations are only the stars making
    the patterns
  • 4. The North Star is the brightest star in the
    night sky
  • 5. Stars last forever
  • 6. All stars are same color
  • 7. Stars really twinkle
  • 8. All stars are isolated
  • 9. Pulsars are pulsating stars
  • 10. Asteroid belt is densely packed, as in Star
    Wars
  • 11. Meteors, Meteorites, Meteoroids, Asteroids,
    and Comets are the same things
  • 12. A shooting star is actually a star falling
    through the sky
  • 13. Comet tails are always behind the comet
  • 14. Comets are burning and giving off gas as
    their tails
  • 15. All planetary orbits are circular

16. All planets have prograde rotation 17. All
moons are spherical 18. We see all sides of the
Moon 19. Ours is the only moon 20. Spring tide
only occurs in the Spring 21. Only the Moon
causes tides/the Moon has no effect on tides 22.
High tide is only between the Earth and Moon 23.
Once the ozone is gone, its gone forever 24.
Mercury is hot everywhere on its surface 25.
Giant planets have solid surfaces 26. Saturn is
the only planet with rings 27. Saturns rings
are solid 28. Pluto is always the farthest
planet from the Sun 29. The Sun primarily emits
yellow light 30. The Sun is solid shines by
burning gas or from molten lava 31. The Sun
always rises directly in the East 32. Black
holes are empty space 33. Black holes are huge
vacuum cleaners in space, sucking everything in.
12
What is the main rationale people use for why it
is hotter in the summer time?
  • Closer to the Sun
  • Why?
  • Deep and internally consistent misconception
    about the tilted-spinning Earth-Sun system? … OR
  • Or did they just construct that meaning
    on-the-spot?

13
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14
If a student says it is hotter in the summer time
because we are closer, what do you say?
  • No, are you stupid?
  • No, its the tilt of the Earth.
  • Hum, I heard that it is warmest in Australia in
    January. How can that be?
  • Why do you say that?
  • What is it you are listening for if you ask them
    to explain their answer?

15
How People Learn
  • Students enter your lecture hall with
    preconceptions about how the world works. If
    their initial understanding is not engaged, they
    may fail to grasp the new concepts and
    information that are taught, or they may learn
    them for the purposes of a test but revert to
    their preconceptions outside the classroom

HOW PEOPLE LEARN, NRC, National Academy Press,
2000.
16
  • Students enter your lecture hall with
    preconceptions about how the world works. If
    their initial understanding is not engaged, they
    may fail to grasp the new concepts and
    information that are taught, or they may learn
    them for the purposes of a test but revert to
    their preconceptions outside the classroom.
  • When children touch something on the stove, they
    learn that temperature increases with decreasing
    distance
  • When children hear a cars horn, they learn that
    sound intensity increases with decreasing
    distance
  • When children see a bright flashlight, they learn
    that brightness increases with decreasing
    distance
  • ? CLOSE MEANS MORE

17
  • Students enter your lecture hall with
    preconceptions about how the world works. If
    their initial understanding is not engaged, they
    may fail to grasp the new concepts and
    information that are taught, or they may learn
    them for the purposes of a test but revert to
    their preconceptions outside the classroom.

IMPORTANT NOTE These are NOT exactly the same
P-Prims described by di Sessa.
18
How Do Primitive-like Ideas Impact Teaching
and Learning Astronomy?
19
We dont yet know exactly how to build astronomy
curriculum around these accurate nuggets of
knowledge P-Prims Were just now trying to
systematically identify and build on them
RESEARCH CHALLENGE
20
So, when do I get to lecture??
  • Students can learn many things in a lecture if
    they are at the point where they need it.
  • So, what can I lecture on?
  • Thats where we are right now….

Research Challenge Determine which ideas in
your class can be taught and which ideas have to
be learned! (this information is needed to guide
the development of active learning tutorials)
21
The Montillation of Traxoline (attributed to
Judy Lanier)
  • It is very important that you learn about
    traxoline. Traxoline is a new form of zionter. It
    is montilled in Ceristanna. The Ceristannians
    gristerlate large amounts of fevon and then
    brachter it to quasel traxoline. Traxoline may
    well be one of our most lukized snezlaus in the
    future because of our zionter lescelidge.

Now Im going to give you a test ….
22
The Montillation of Traxoline (attributed to
Judy Lanier)
  • It is very important that you learn about
    traxoline. Traxoline is a new form of zionter. It
    is montilled in Ceristanna. The Ceristannians
    gristerlate large amounts of fevon and then
    brachter it to quasel traxoline. Traxoline may
    well be one of our most lukized snezlaus in the
    future because of our zionter lescelidge.
  • Directions Answer the following questions in
    complete sentences. Be sure to use your best
    handwriting.

1. What is traxoline? 2. Where is traxoline
montilled? 3. How is traxoline quaselled? 4. Why
is it important to know about traxoline?
23
Which ideas in your class can be fixed by lecture
and which ideas have to be constructed? (aka,
When can I lecture?)
  • Seasons are caused by changing distance from the
    Sun
  • The North Star is the brightest star in the sky
  • Astronauts on the Space Shuttle float because
    there is no gravity in space
  • The Space Shuttle goes to the Moon every week
  • Black holes fly around and vacuum up stars
  • The Solar System contains hundreds of stars
  • The Big Bang was an organization of pre-existing
    stuff

viz., Adams Slater, 2000 Brissenden, 1999
Comins, 2000 Lindell Adrian, 1999 Sadler, 1992
Slater, 1993 Vosniadou, 1989 Zeilik, 1997,
among many others
24
  • Q4 Which has a greater temperature, a
    K-spectral class star or a F-spectral class star?
  • Nearly all students can answer this question
    correctly after conventional instruction.
  • Q15 Star A is a K-spectral class star that is
    much brighter than Star B which is a F-spectral
    class star. Which star has a higher temperature?
  • More than half of all students cite Star A is the
    hotter of the two stars because it is brighter
    after a conventional lecture about luminosity,
    spectral classes, and Stefan-Boltzman Law
  • When presented with the opportunity, students
    access a brighter means hotter p-prim when
    answering Q15

25
Development of Lecture-Tutorials for
Introductory Astronomy
  • Identify specific CONCEPTS that many students do
    not seem to grasp through lecture
  • Develop a highly-structured series of
    collaborative learning group questions designed
    to
  • elicit misconceptions
  • confront naïve, incomplete, or inaccurate ideas
  • resolve contradictions
  • demonstrate the power of THEIR conceptual models
  • Field-test in a wide-variety of classroom
    environments and adopt model in other disciplines

26
An Abridged Lecture-Tutorial Example …
27
Is the Textbook the Curriculum?
  • A random selection of three introductory
    astronomy texts in my office show approximately
  • 400 bold-faced words
  • 630 bold-faced words
  • 880 bold-faced words
  • As compared to a one-year introductory foreign
    language course that teaches about 400 active
    words

Words Words Words
28
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29
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30
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31
Bottom Line Teaching and Learning are NOT the
Same Thing
  • Research Challenge
  • Determine which ideas in your class can be taught
    and which ideas have to be learned
  • Use this information is to guide the development
    of active learning approaches

32
Creation of New Knowledge is the Interface
Between Teaching and Learning
  • How long would it take to get from Venus to Mars?
  • Exactly where do I look to see a planet?
  • Whats the coefficient of friction on the
    highway?
  • How do scientists know …

How can you determine …
Context-rich problems with multiple correct
answers
33
THANK YOU
  • Tim Slater
  • Montana State University
  • Department of Physics
  • Conceptual Astronomy and Physics
  • Education Research (CAPER) Team
  • Email tslater_at_physics.montana.edu
  • Supported in part by NSF Geoscience
  • Education 9907755 and CCLI 9952232

34
  • Using Research on Student Reasoning Difficulties
    to Enhance Teaching and Learning in Introductory
    Astronomy A Progress Report
  •  
  • Tim Slater, Montana State University
  •  
  • Research in earth and space science education has
    been showing that, despite well-intentioned
    efforts of interested faculty, many students
    leave courses with fundamental misconceptions.
    This is even evident on television where a recent
    Jay Leno bit asks people on the street, how long
    does it take Earth to go around our Sun? As you
    can probably guess, not enough folks know the
    correct answer. So, why is it that so many
    people have problems retaining the basic science
    knowledge that most academics seem to recall
    easily? As scientists working on improving
    education, we hope to create a comprehensive
    theoretical model that allows us to look
    carefully at the curriculum and know a priori
    which concepts require targeted instruction and
    which concepts can be effectively taught using
    conventional lectures. Over the last few years,
    research by scientists on students specific
    conceptual and reasoning difficulties is
    providing significant insight into how to improve
    teaching and learning of science. Our best
    evidence suggests that specific instructional
    strategies can be built around how students learn
    that lead to improved learning for many students
    who are currently struggling in our courses.
  •  
  •  

35
  • BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
  •  
  • Tim Slater is a research associate professor of
    physics at Montana State University where he
    conducts research on teaching and learning in
    earth and space sciences at both the K-12 and
    collegiate levels. The results of his research
    are used to develop innovative curriculum
    materials and assessment strategies specifically
    targeted at common student misconceptions. He
    has been leading of collaborative team of
    scientists and educators in developing
    Internet-based curriculum materials and teacher
    enhancement programs that use electronic data
    sources to provide learners with authentic
    research experiences. Much of this work is being
    utilized by various NASA Space Science missions
    as part of their national education and public
    outreach efforts.
  •  
  • Dr. Slater earned a BS in Physical Science and a
    BS Ed in Secondary Science Education from Kansas
    State University, an MS in Physics and Astronomy
    from Clemson University and a Ph.D. in Geological
    Sciences from the University of South Carolina.
    His dissertation focused on understanding the
    extent to which elementary and secondary teachers
    change their teaching of astronomy concepts when
    exposed to constructivist instructional
    strategies. Dr Slater serves as the lead project
    scientist for the MSU NASA Center for Educational
    Resources (CERES) Project, the AstroNotes column
    editor for The Physics Teacher Journal, and has
    just completed two-consecutive terms as the
    American Association of Physics Teachers -
    Astronomy Education Committee chairman. He has
    been awarded more than 3 million in grants for
    his work in teacher training and curriculum
    development, published nearly 50 articles, and
    currently working on two book projects.
  •  
  • Tim Slater
  • Research Associate Professor
  • Montana State University
  • Department of Physics
  • Bozeman, MT 59717-3840
  • Tel. (406) 994-1693
  • Fax (406) 994-4452
  • email tslater_at_physics.montana.edu
  • URL http//solar.physics.montana.edu/tslater
  •  
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