An Experimental Study Of The Effectiveness Of A Planetarium In Teaching Selected Astronomical Phenomena To Sixth-Grade Children.
This study was undertaken because of the need to evaluate
the effectiveness of planetariums as a teaching device. Planetariums are used increasingly in science instruction, although there is no research-based understanding of their educational potential. The chief purpose of this study was to determine whether sixth-grade children develop a greater understanding of selected astronomical phenomena from instruction which includes the use of a planetarium than from instruction which does not. Additional subproblems were:
(1) to compare the effectiveness of two teaching arrangements which differ in the amounts of time in a planetarium; (2) to compare the effectiveness of the three teaching arrangements for boys and for girls; and (3) to compare the effectiveness of the three arrangements for children of high intelligence and for those of low intellifence. Three teaching arrangements were provided. In each, chil dren received five 45-minute periods of instruction. One group received four periods of classroom instruction followed by one period of instruction in the planetarium. Another group received the first and the last of the five periods of instruction in the planetarium. A control group had all five lessons in the classroom.
The phenomena selected for instruction were: (1) the apparent daily and annual turning of the sky, and (2) phases of the moon. Nineteen concepts leading to understanding of the two phenomena were identified. A multiple-choice examination with forty questions was developed to test for understanding of the nineteen concepts. This examination was used both as a pretest and as a posttest. The investigator did the teaching and administered the astronomy tests. Active student involvement was a part of each period of instruction, including those in the planetarium. The study was conducted in the Ann Arbor, Michigan, Public Schools, with a sample of 339 children. Analyses of covariance were used to test null hypotheses of no significant differences in achievement among the groups and subgroups attributable to differences in the teaching arrangements. considered in the analyses included intelligence, reading ability, initial understanding of the astronomy, and sex.
Each of the three teaching arrangements was effective. The apparent differences among the arrangements could be easily ac counted for by chance. Further, it was found that sixth-grade boys have significantly greater understanding than sixth-grade girls have of phases of the moon and the apparent turning of the sky before formal instruction in these phenomena. No significant differences
in effectiveness were found among the three arrangements, when considering the total groups or the subgroups based on sex or on intelligence.
It was concluded that sixth-grade children do not achieve a greater understanding of phases of the moon and the apparent turning of the sky from instruction which includes the use of a planetarium than from instruction which does not.
Type of Publication
Rosemergy, John Charles
University of Michigan
Number of Pages
Nation(s) of Study
United States of America