||A National Study Assessing the Teaching and Learning of Introductory Astronomy; Part I: The Effect of
||443, Earth and Space Science: Making Connections in Education and Public Outreach
||Prather, E. E.; Rudolph, A. L.; Brissenden, G.; Schlingman, W. M.
||We present the results of a national study on the teaching and learning of
astronomy taught in general education, non-science major, introductory
astronomy courses (Astro 101). Nearly 4000 students enrolled in 69 sections
of Astro 101 taught at 31 institutions completed (pre- and post- instruction)
the Light and Spectroscopy Concept Inventory (LSCI) from Fall 2006 to Fall
2007. The classes varied in size from very small (N < 10) to large
were from all types of institutions, including both 2-year and 4-year colleges
and universities. To study how the instruction in different classrooms
affected student learning, we developed and administered an Interactivity
Assessment Instrument (IAI). This short survey, completed by instructors,
allowed us to estimate the fraction of classroom time spent on learner-
centered, active-engagement instruction such as Peer Instruction and
collaborative tutorials. Pre-instruction LSCI scores were clustered around
∼25% (24 ± 2%), independent of class size and institution type;
however, the gains measured varied from about (–)0.07–0.50. The distribution
of gain scores indicates that differences were due to instruction in the
classroom, not the type of class or institution. Interactivity Assessment
Scores (IAS's) ranged from 0%–50%, showing that our IAI was able to
distinguish between classes with higher and lower levels of interactivity.
A comparison of class-averaged gain score to IAS showed that higher
interactivity classes (IAS > 25%) were the only instructional environments
capable of reaching the highest gains (〈g〉> 0.30).
However, the range of
gains seen for both groups of classes was quite wide, suggesting that the
use of interactive learning strategies is not sufficient by itself to achieve
high student gain.