Assessing Student Learning in the Planetarium

Type Conference Paper
Names Paul Sell, E. J. Hooper
Proceedings Title Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society
Conference Name American Astronomical Society, AAS Meeting #219, #235.03
Volume 219
Date January 1, 2012
Library Catalog NASA ADS
Abstract For decades, the effectiveness of the planetarium as a teaching tool has been investigated without a clear answer. As teaching paradigms have shifted, the usefulness and roles of planetaria must be made clearer if instructors are to make the best use of this expensive and unique tool. We have taught one week of discussion sections in each of the three Astronomy 103 classes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison using permutations of PowerPoint presentations and instructor- and student-centered demonstrations in the classroom or planetarium with the same learning goals. Our central research question: how does student learning of basic celestial motions in an introductory astronomy classroom depend on various teaching methods and tools incorporated with, or instead of, a planetarium presentation. The effectiveness of varied approaches was tested by giving students pre- and post-tests to gauge what they learned from the our planetarium or classroom discussions and demonstrations.
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