Development of a Concept Inventory to Assess Students' Understanding and Reasoning Difficulties About the Properties and Formation of Stars

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/193643
Title:
Development of a Concept Inventory to Assess Students' Understanding and Reasoning Difficulties About the Properties and Formation of Stars
Author:
Bailey, Janelle Margaret
Issue Date:
2006
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
Stars are one of the most frequently covered topics in introductory astronomy classes. From a constructivist framework, one must know what conceptions students bring with them to the classroom in order to effectively facilitate deep conceptual learning about stars. This study investigated the beliefs about stars that students hold when they enter an introductory astronomy course, and used that information to develop a concept inventory that can be used to assess those beliefs pre- and postinstruction.First, students' preinstructional beliefs were investigated through the use of student-supplied-response (SSR) surveys, which asked students to describe their ideas about topics such as what is a star, how is starlight created, how are stars formed, are all stars the same, and more. More than 2,200 students participated in this portion of the study during four semesters. Responses were inductively analyzed in an iterative process and coded for themes. Calculated frequencies show that although many students (80%) understand that stars are made of gas, a third to half of the participants (32-44%, depending upon the question) believe that starlight is created (or energy otherwise emitted) as a result of the star burning. Nuclear fusion, the true energy source in stars, is identified by fewer than 10% of the students. Interviews with seven volunteers confirmed that the responses seen on the SSR surveys were consistent with verbal explanations.The second portion of the study involved the design and testing of the Star Properties Concept Inventory. After item development and testing on Versions 1 and 2, interviews with 18 participants about their responses to Version 1, and an expert review by 26 volunteer astronomy instructors, Version 3 was created and tested during the Fall 2005 semester. Results from approximately 2,000 students who took Version 3 show that those students in an introductory astronomy course for nonscience majors increased their scores significantly over the semester, whereas a control group (students in an introductory earth science course for nonscience majors) showed no increase. These results support the purpose of this concept inventory to investigate the effectiveness of instruction on the topic of star properties and formation.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
astronomy education; misconceptions; concept inventory; stars; student understanding of astronomy
Degree Name:
PhD
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Teaching & Teacher Education; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Committee Chair:
Johnson, Bruce; Prather, Edward E.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoENen_US
dc.titleDevelopment of a Concept Inventory to Assess Students' Understanding and Reasoning Difficulties About the Properties and Formation of Starsen_US
dc.creatorBailey, Janelle Margareten_US
dc.contributor.authorBailey, Janelle Margareten_US
dc.date.issued2006en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractStars are one of the most frequently covered topics in introductory astronomy classes. From a constructivist framework, one must know what conceptions students bring with them to the classroom in order to effectively facilitate deep conceptual learning about stars. This study investigated the beliefs about stars that students hold when they enter an introductory astronomy course, and used that information to develop a concept inventory that can be used to assess those beliefs pre- and postinstruction.First, students' preinstructional beliefs were investigated through the use of student-supplied-response (SSR) surveys, which asked students to describe their ideas about topics such as what is a star, how is starlight created, how are stars formed, are all stars the same, and more. More than 2,200 students participated in this portion of the study during four semesters. Responses were inductively analyzed in an iterative process and coded for themes. Calculated frequencies show that although many students (80%) understand that stars are made of gas, a third to half of the participants (32-44%, depending upon the question) believe that starlight is created (or energy otherwise emitted) as a result of the star burning. Nuclear fusion, the true energy source in stars, is identified by fewer than 10% of the students. Interviews with seven volunteers confirmed that the responses seen on the SSR surveys were consistent with verbal explanations.The second portion of the study involved the design and testing of the Star Properties Concept Inventory. After item development and testing on Versions 1 and 2, interviews with 18 participants about their responses to Version 1, and an expert review by 26 volunteer astronomy instructors, Version 3 was created and tested during the Fall 2005 semester. Results from approximately 2,000 students who took Version 3 show that those students in an introductory astronomy course for nonscience majors increased their scores significantly over the semester, whereas a control group (students in an introductory earth science course for nonscience majors) showed no increase. These results support the purpose of this concept inventory to investigate the effectiveness of instruction on the topic of star properties and formation.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectastronomy educationen_US
dc.subjectmisconceptionsen_US
dc.subjectconcept inventoryen_US
dc.subjectstarsen_US
dc.subjectstudent understanding of astronomyen_US
thesis.degree.namePhDen_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineTeaching & Teacher Educationen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.chairJohnson, Bruceen_US
dc.contributor.chairPrather, Edward E.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberSlater, Timothy F.en_US
dc.identifier.proquest1537en_US
dc.identifier.oclc137356394en_US
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