Researching Effective Methods for Teaching the Phases of the Moon
This study investigated the effectiveness of commonly used instructional methods for teaching the phases of the Moon to fifth and sixth grade students. The instructional methods investigated were the use of diagrams, animations, and models. The effectiveness of each method was tested by measuring students’ understanding of Moon phases with a pre and post-assessment after receiving instruction with a specific method or combination of methods. These methods
were then evaluated for their ability to help students learn essential concepts, reinforce relevant vocabulary and discourage misconceptions. Results showed that students had better scores with less prevalence of misconception when they were taught using two methods instead of one.
Students taught with only computer animations had significantly lower scores and a higher prevalence of misconceptions when compared to the other methods. This may be due to some design errors in the animation used in this study. Even though students taught with only
computer animations had significantly lower scores, students taught with computer animations followed by instruction with diagrams had significantly higher scores. Why this combination of instruction was more effective for student learning is a question that requires further research.