Impact Of Collaborative Groups Versus Individuals In Undergraduate Inquiry-Based Astronomy Laboratory Learning Exercises
A mixed-method quasi-experimental study was designed to determine how 130 undergraduates in an introductory astronomy survey course laboratory changed their understanding of scientific inquiry working as individuals in relative isolation compared to working in small, collaborative learning groups when using specially designed astronomy curricula based on a backwards faded scaffolding approach (Slater, Slater, & Lyons, 2010). The results of this two-group comparison study were determined by examining the change in responses from the pretest to the posttest administration of the Views of Scientific Inquiry (VOSI) survey (Schwartz, Lederman, & Lederman, 2008), the increase in scores on laboratory exercises, and analysis of field notes from the instructor. Analysis suggests that all students increased their understanding of scientific inquiry and astronomy when using the specially designed course materials regardless if the students were working in groups or individually in the learning laboratories. However, qualitative analysis yields further insight that there exists a qualitative difference in the complexity of research questions students working in groups elect to pursue over those students working independently.