"The purpose of this study was to understand how instruction in an introductory non- major astronomy course at Oregon State University affects how non-science majors view science and the scientific process. The study used research-based methods to design a reform-based lecture/lab course and implement it for students. Two top-level questions were asked during the study of the redesigned astronomy course:
1. Do student epistemologies change after instruction using the redesigned lecture/lab curriculum in a non-major introductory astronomy course?
2. Is there any change in content gain when students are instructed using the redesigned non-major introductory astronomy course?
Students were given pre-instruction and post-instruction epistemological measures in order to track changes in their views on science. A pre-instruction diagnostic test was given to gauge general knowledge, and examination scores were used to assess student content gain.
An initial study of student epistemologies in 2004 indicated a significant decrease in the sophistication of student epistemologies after taking the astronomy course. After our instruction, student epistemologies do not show the decrease that we found initially and in some aspects show a modest increase in sophistication.
We also found no significant decrease in student content gain after instruction was redeveloped to focus on epistemological instruction. In general, as instruction became more epistemologically focused, we found an increase in exam averages over the course of study.
We found a correlation between our instruction and changes in student views about science and the scientific process, but also found content gain to increase."