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Paper: A National Study Assessing the Teaching and Learning of Introductory Astronomy; Part II: Analysis of Student Demographics
Volume: 443, Earth and Space Science: Making Connections in Education and Public Outreach
Page: 478
Authors: Prather, E. E.; Consiglio, D.; Rudolph, A. L.; Brissenden, G.
Abstract: This is the second in a series of reports on a national study of the teaching and learning of astronomy in general education, non-science major, introductory astronomy courses (Astro 101). We report here on the analysis of how individual student characteristics affect student learning in these classes, and whether the demonstrated positive effect of interactive learning strategies on student learning differs based on these characteristics. This analysis was conducted using data from nearly 2000 students enrolled in 69 Astro 101 classes taught across the country. These students completed a 15-question demographic survey, in addition to completing the 26-question Light and Spectroscopy Concept Inventory (LSCI) pre- and post-instruction. The LSCI was used to determine student learning via a normalized gain calculated for each student. A multivariate regression analysis was conducted to determine how ascribed characteristics (personal demographic and family characteristics), obtained characteristics (academic achievement and student major), and the use of interactive learning strategies predict student learning in these classes. The results show dramatic improvement in student learning with increased use of interactive learning strategies even after controlling for individual characteristics. In addition, we find that the positive effects of interactive learning strategies are the same for strong and weak students, men and women, across ethnicities, and regardless of primary language. The research strongly suggests all students benefit from interactive learning strategies.
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