2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
Paper No. 21-1
Presentation Time: 8:15 AM-8:30 AM

GRADE 4-12 STUDENT CONCEPTIONS OF ASTRONOMICAL PHENOMENA

PETULA, Jason, School of Behavioral Sciences and Education, Pennsylvania State University, W314C Omsted Building, 777 West Harrisburg Pike, Middletown, PA 17057, jjp122@psu.edu and PALMA, Chris, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pennsylvania State University, 419 Davey Lab, University Park, PA 16802

The National Academies recently released A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (2011). The chapter devoted to Earth and Space Sciences reveals two core astronomy ideas: Earth’s Place in the Universe and Earth and the Solar System. Both core ideas are challenging for students due to perceptions of deep space and time.

The perceptions of students may fall on a continuum between novice and expert understanding. What is not fully understood is how students’ learning progresses toward expert understanding. In an effort to reveal such learning progressions, astronomy assessments from grades 4-12 students were analyzed. Patterns in the students’ answers suggest common misconceptions in astronomical phenomena. The phenomena assessed were the Sun-Earth-Moon system, scale, phases, perspective, and orbital velocity.

Preliminary analysis of the assessments reveal commonalities in novice understanding (i.e., misconceptions) that do not appear dependent upon grade level. For example, how fourth grade students inaccurately sketch the Sun-Earth-Moon system to reveal the Moon’s full phase is similar to inaccurate sketches by twelfth grade Advanced Placement Physics students. Understanding of student conceptions may inform the pedagogies employed by educators to teach astronomical phenomena. For example, perceptions of deep space and time may be altered using technologies such as computer-based planetaria.

2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
General Information for this Meeting

Handouts:

Session No. 21
Identifying and Addressing K16 Student Misconceptions in the Earth-Science Classroom
Minneapolis Convention Center: Room 211AB
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Sunday, 9 October 2011

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 43, No. 5, p. 66

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