Session Type

Presentation

Room

PAB 150

Start Date

10-7-2013 2:00 PM

Keywords

astronomy, planetarium, mixed-methods, undergraduate students, engagement

Primary Threads

Teaching and Learning Science

Abstract

Despite the popularity of astronomy in first year university, it has lagged behind many other disciplines in implementing modern pedagogical techniques designed to improve student engagement. To address this, over the past several years, the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at our university has employed an Audience Response System, the use of online interaction tools such as Twitter and MSN, the introduction of tutorials which include small-group activities, and the use of a planetarium with which we developed both instructor-led and student-led shows. Our goal in this study was to assess the effectiveness of the overall approach on students’ engagement and understanding, with a specific focus on the use of teaching planetaria. Data was collected using quantitative pre and post test questionnaires at three different stages of the course simultaneously during the tutorial and both types of planetarium shows. We also conducted 5 focus groups with approximately 10 participants in each to evaluate their perspectives on the various learning components of the course and how these influenced their engagement. Although analysis is not complete, quantitative data appears to demonstrate no significant knowledge or understanding differences between the various learning experiences. In focus groups, participants claimed to prefer teacher-directed activities such as class lecture and the tutorial to the student-led planetarium show, although several factors qualified these claims. Results are discussed in the context of literature that theorises contemporary schools are reproducing ‘knowledge consumers’ rather than knowledge producers, and the various economic and social factors influencing this.

Media Format

flash_audio


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Jul 10th, 2:00 PM

Increasing Engagement and Understanding Using Interactive Planetarium Shows

PAB 150

Despite the popularity of astronomy in first year university, it has lagged behind many other disciplines in implementing modern pedagogical techniques designed to improve student engagement. To address this, over the past several years, the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at our university has employed an Audience Response System, the use of online interaction tools such as Twitter and MSN, the introduction of tutorials which include small-group activities, and the use of a planetarium with which we developed both instructor-led and student-led shows. Our goal in this study was to assess the effectiveness of the overall approach on students’ engagement and understanding, with a specific focus on the use of teaching planetaria. Data was collected using quantitative pre and post test questionnaires at three different stages of the course simultaneously during the tutorial and both types of planetarium shows. We also conducted 5 focus groups with approximately 10 participants in each to evaluate their perspectives on the various learning components of the course and how these influenced their engagement. Although analysis is not complete, quantitative data appears to demonstrate no significant knowledge or understanding differences between the various learning experiences. In focus groups, participants claimed to prefer teacher-directed activities such as class lecture and the tutorial to the student-led planetarium show, although several factors qualified these claims. Results are discussed in the context of literature that theorises contemporary schools are reproducing ‘knowledge consumers’ rather than knowledge producers, and the various economic and social factors influencing this.