Effect of Night Laboratories on Learning Objectives for a Nonmajor Astronomy Class
We tested the effectiveness of hands-on nighttime laboratories that challenged student misconceptions, using a new assessment exam to measure learning in a nonmajor introductory astronomy class at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. We were able to increase learning at the 8.0 sigma level on one of the Moon phase objectives that was addressed in a cloudy night activity. There is weak evidence of some improvement on a broader range of learning objectives. We show evidence that the overall achievement levels of the four sections of the class are correlated with how much clear weather the sections had for observing even though the learning objectives were addressed primarily in activities that did not require clear skies. We describe our first attempt to cycle the students through different activity stations in an effort to handle 18 students at a time in the laboratories, and the lessons we learned from this.
Jacobi, I. C., Newberg, H. J., Broder, D., Finn, R. A., Milano, A. J., Newberg, L. A., Weatherwax, A. T., & Whittet, D. C. B. 2008, Astronomy Education Review, 7(2), p.66–73
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