An Experimental Study Of Teaching Method, Spatial Orientation Ability, And Achievement In Selected Topics Of Positional Astronomy

Sonntag, Mark Stephen (1981) An Experimental Study Of Teaching Method, Spatial Orientation Ability, And Achievement In Selected Topics Of Positional Astronomy. Doctoral thesis, University of Colorado Boulder.

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A completely, crossed, two-factor experimental design was utilized to compare the effectiveness of three different teaching methods (planetarium lecture, classroom-celestial globe lecture, and planetarium/classroom-celestial globe lecture) and the effect of student spatial orientation ability (high, medium, and low ability groups) on the learning of selected positional astronomy concepts. Seniors enrolled in the elementary science methods class at the University of Colorado during the Fall, 1980 semester were randomly assigned to treatments. Spatial orientation ability of the students was assessed using the researcher constructed Spatial Orientation Ability Test (SOAT) prior to treatments. Those scoring in the top one-third were assigned to the high ability group, those in the middle one-third to the medium ability group, and those in the bottom one-third the low ability group. The treatments (teaching methods) were administered, and the posttest was given to each group. The posttest was the Positional Astronomy Achievement Test (PAAT) and was constructed by the investigator expressly for this study. Group mean differences on the total PAAT and four subtests were tested for statistical significance using analysis of covariance with grade point average, number of astronomy credit hours, and class attendance used as covariates. A significant difference on posttest means across teaching method on the total PAAT was found with the classroom-celestial globe lecture method favored. The spatial orientation ability factor showed highly significant differences in mean scores on the total PAAT and three of the four subtests with the high spatial orientation ability group being superior. Significant interactions between teaching method and spatial orientation ability on the total PAAT and two subtests were also found. All interactions were in the same direction with the low and medium spatial orientation ability groups performing better on the posttest, if they were in the planetarium or planetarium/classroom-celestial globe sections. However, students in the high spatial orientation ability group favored the classroom teaching method. This study found that spatial orientation ability of students is a factor that should be considered when designing instructional techniques in college astronomy classes that teach positional astronomy. Two-thirds of the students in this study favored planetarium or a combination of planetarium and classroom instruction. The results of this study imply that students who have low and medium spatial ability need the more observable and concrete instruction provided by the planetarium. Pretesting on the spatial ability construct should prove quite useful in prescribing the most effective teaching method to be used when teaching positional astronomy concepts to elementary teacher education students.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Astronomy Education Research
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2017 09:40
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2018 23:51

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