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ERIC Number: EJ1170419
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Dec
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-2374-6246
Opportunity to Learn: Investigating Possible Predictors for Pre-Course "Test Of Astronomy STandards" TOAST Scores
Berryhill, Katie J.; Slater, Timothy F.
Journal of Astronomy & Earth Sciences Education, v4 n2 p95-108 Dec 2017
As discipline-based astronomy education researchers become more interested in experimentally testing innovative teaching strategies to enhance learning in undergraduate introductory astronomy survey courses ("ASTRO 101"), scholars are placing increased attention toward better understanding factors impacting student gain scores on the widely used Test Of Astronomy STandards (TOAST). Usually used in a pre-test and post-test study design, college faculty might naturally assume that the pre-course differences observed between high- and low-scoring college students might be due in large part to their pre-existing motivation, interest, experience in science, and attitudes about astronomy. To explore this notion, 11 non-science majoring undergraduates taking ASTRO 101 at west coast community colleges were interviewed in the first few weeks of the course after taking the TOAST as a pre-test to better understand students' pre-existing affect toward learning astronomy with an eye toward predicting student success. The goal is to contribute to a better understanding of the incoming knowledge of students taking undergraduate introductory astronomy classes and provide guidance for how faculty can best meet those students' needs and assist them in greater achievement. Perhaps surprisingly, there was only weak correlation between students' motivation toward learning astronomy and their pre-test scores. Instead, the most fruitful predictor of TOAST pre-test scores was the quantity of pre-existing, informal, self-directed astronomy learning experiences, sometimes occurring many years before course enrollment. This data suggests that professors should be wary of correlating low incoming pre-course scores with student apathy toward their subject.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A