Visuospatial astronomy education in immersive digital planetariums
Even simple concepts in astronomy are notoriously difficult for the general public to understand. Many ideas involve three-dimensional (3D) spatial relationships among astronomical objects. However much of the traditional teaching materials used in astronomy education are two-dimensional (2D) in nature, while studies show that visualising mental rotations and perspective changes can be difficult for many. The simplifications that occur when explaining one phenomenon may lead to new misconceptions in other concepts. Properly constructed 3D simulations can provide students with the multiple perspectives necessary for understanding. As a venue for virtual astronomical environments, the new class of digital video planetariums that are appearing in museums and science centres have the potential to bridge the comprehension gap in astronomy learning. We describe a research project which aims to evaluate the effectiveness of visualisations in both immersive and non-immersive settings, by using freshmen undergraduate students from a four-year college. The retention of students over the course of a semester for this study means that student misconceptions can be tracked and recorded weekly via curriculum tests.
Yu, K. C., & Sahami, K. (2008). Visuospatial astronomy education in immersive digital planetariums. In L. L. Christensen, M. Zoulias & I. Robson (Eds.), Proceedings from the IAU/National Observatory of Athens/ESA/ESO Conference: Communicating Astronomy wi