Astronomy Education Review

Journal Information
ISSN / EISSN : 1539-1515 / 1539-1515
Published by: American Astronomical Society (10.3847)
Total articles ≅ 318
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Latest articles in this journal

Alexander L. Rudolph
Astronomy Education Review, Volume 12;

The increasing use of interactive learning strategies in Astro 101 classrooms has led some instructors to consider the usefulness of a textbook in such classes. These strategies provide students a learning modality very different from the traditional lecture supplemented by reading a textbook and homework, and raises the question of whether the learning that takes place during such interactive activities is enough by itself to teach students what we wish them to know about astronomy. To address this question, assessment data is presented from an interactive class, which was first taught with a required textbook, and then with the textbook being optional. Comparison of test scores before and after this change shows no statistical difference in student achievement whether a textbook is required or not. In addition, comparison of test scores of students who purchased the textbook to those who did not, after the textbook became optional, also show no statistical difference between the two groups. The Light and Spectroscopy Concept Inventory (LSCI), a research-validated assessment tool, was given pre- and post-instruction to three classes that had a required textbook, and one for which the textbook was optional, and the results demonstrate that the student learning gains on this central topic were statistically indistinguishable between the two groups. Finally, the Star Properties Concept Inventory (SPCI), another research-validated assessment tool, was administered to a class for which the textbook was optional, and the class performance was higher than that of a group of classes in a national study
, Georgia Bracey, Pamela L. Gay, Chris J. Lintott, Carie Cardamone, Phil Murray, , , Jan Vandenberg
Astronomy Education Review, Volume 12;

Citizen science, in which volunteers work with professional scientists to conduct research, is expanding due to large online datasets. To plan projects, it is important to understand volunteers' motivations for participating. This paper analyzes results from an online survey of nearly 11,000 volunteers in Galaxy Zoo, an astronomy citizen science project. Results show that volunteers' primary motivation is a desire to contribute to scientific research. We encourage other citizen science projects to study the motivations of their volunteers, to see whether and how these results may be generalized to inform the field of citizen science
, Sébastien Cormier, , Chris Lintott, ,
Astronomy Education Review, Volume 12;

The Zooniverse projects turn everyday people into "citizen scientists" who work online with real data to assist scientists in conducting research on a variety of topics related to galaxies, exoplanets, lunar craters, and solar flares, among others. This paper describes our initial study to assess the conceptual knowledge and reasoning abilities of citizen scientists participating in two Zooniverse projects: Galaxy Zoo and Moon Zoo. In order to measure their knowledge and abilities, we developed two new assessment instruments, the Zooniverse Astronomical Concept Survey (ZACS) and the Lunar Cratering Concept Inventory (LCCI). We found that citizen scientists with the highest level of participation in the Galaxy Zoo and Moon Zoo projects also have the highest average correct scores on the items of the ZACS and LCCI. However, the limited nature of the data provided by Zooniverse participants prevents us from being able to evaluate the statistical significance of this finding, and we make no claim about whether there is a causal relationship between one's participation in Galaxy Zoo or Moon Zoo and one's level of conceptual understanding or reasoning ability on the astrophysical topics assessed by the ZACS or the LCCI. Overall, both the ZACS and the LCCI provide Zooniverse's citizen scientists with items that offer a wide range of difficulties. Using the data from the small subset of participants who responded to all items of the ZACS, we found evidence suggesting the ZACS is a reliable instrument (α=0.78), although twenty-one of its forty items appear to have point biserials less than 0.3. The work reported here provides significant insight into the strengths and limitations of various methods for administering assessments to citizen scientists. Researchers who wish to study the knowledge and abilities of citizen scientists in the future should be sure to design their research methods to avoid the pitfalls identified by our initial findings. © 2013 The American Astronomical Society
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