Hands-on-Science: Using Education Research to Construct
Research into the process of learning, and learning astronomy, can be informative for the development of a course. Students are better able to incorporate and make sense of new ideas when they are aware of their own prior knowledge (Resnick et al. 1989; Confrey 1990), have the opportunity to develop explanations from their own experience in their own words (McDermott 1991; Prather et al. 2004), and benefit from peer instruction (Mazur 1997; Green 2003). Students in astronomy courses often have
difficulty understanding many different concepts as a result of difficulties with spatial reasoning and a sense of scale. The Hands-on-Science program at UT Austin incorporates these research-based results into four guided-inquiry, integrated science courses (50 students each). They are aimed at pre-service K–5 teachers but are open to other majors as well. We find that Hands-on-Science students not only attain more favorable changes in attitude towards science, but they also outperform students in traditional lecture courses in content gains.
Workshop Outcomes: Participants experienced a research-based, guided-inquiry lesson about the motion of objects in the sky and discussed the research methodology for assessing students in such a course.