Stellar Ideas: Exploring Students’ Understanding of Stars
In this study, high school and first-year undergraduate students were asked about their understanding of stars. The hypothesis guiding this research posits that high school students who have taken a semester-long astronomy course will have an understanding of stars most related to scientific knowledge, compared with high school students enrolled in an earth science course and undergraduate students who have not received formal astronomy instruction. This study uses semistructured interviews to investigate students’ ideas about the relationship between the Sun and stars, the nature of stars (What is a star?), and the distances between stars. The results indicate that astronomy instruction at the high school level can be effective at developing students’ knowledge about stars in a short period of time. Specifically, students’ knowledge about stars is enhanced through their understanding of nuclear fusion as the process of energy production in stars. Students who are not enrolled in astronomy at the high school level tend to focus on secondary characteristics of stars, such as size and color.
Agan, L. 2004, Astronomy Education Review, 3(1), p.77–97