Introductory astronomy course at the University of Cape Town: Probing student perspectives
We report on research carried out to improve teaching and student engagement in the introductory astronomy course at the University of Cape Town. This course is taken by a diverse range of students, including many from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. We describe the development of an instrument, the Introductory Astronomy Questionnaire (IAQ), which we administered as pre- and posttests to students enrolled in the course. The instrument comprised a small number of questions which probed three areas of interest: student motivation and expectations, astronomy content, and worldview. Amongst our findings were that learning gains were made in several conceptual areas, and that students appeared to develop a more nuanced view of the nature of astronomy. There was some evidence that the course had a positive impact on students’ worldviews, particularly their attitudes towards science. We also identified a promising predictor of course success that could in the future be used to identify students requiring special teaching intervention.
Rajpaul, V., Allie, S., & Blyth, S.-L. (2014). Introductory astronomy course at the University of Cape Town: Probing student perspectives. Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 10(2), 020126. https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.10.