The Efficacy of Planetarium Experiences to Teach Specific Science Concepts
"The purpose of this study was to examine the impact o f planetarium experiences on students’ understanding of phases of the moon and eclipses. This research employed a quasi-experimental design. Students from 12 classes in four different schools all in the same school district participated in the study. A total of 178 students from four teachers participated in the study. Data were collected using a researcher developed pretest and posttest. All students received classroom instruction based on the school district’s curriculum. The experimental groups took the posttest after attending a 45-minute planetarium experience titled Moon Witch. The control groups took the posttest before attending the planetarium experience but after receiving an additional 45-minute lesson on phases o f the moon and eclipses.
The data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). An Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was run to determine if there was variance among teachers' instructional practices. Since the results indicated there was no significant variance among teachers, the study sample was analyzed as a single group. An Independent Samples t Test for Means was run in SPSS for the study sample and each subgroup. Subgroups were African American, Hispanic, White, Male, Female, and Economically Disadvantaged. The results indicated that there was an improvement on mean gain scores for the experimental group over the control group for all students and each subgroup. The differences in mean gain scores were significantly higher for all students and for the African American, Female, and Economically Disadvantaged subgroups.
An Independent Samples t Test for Means was run using SPSS for each of the three different sections o f the pretest and posttest. The results indicated that most o f the improvement was in Section 3. This section required students to manipulate photos of the phases of moon into correct order. This section required more spatial reasoning than Section 1, multiple-choice, or Section 2, essay.
Results indicate that planetarium experiences improved students’ understanding of phases of the moon and eclipses. There was evidence that this improvement was facilitated by the planetarium’s ability to create visual representations that students would otherwise have to create mentally."
Type of Publication
Palmer, Joel C.
Texas A&M University
Nation(s) of Study
United States of America