Learner-Centered Astronomy Teaching: Strategies for ASTRO 101 / Edition 1

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Overview

This book provides a wealth of astronomy knowledge designed for the non-science major. Presents thorough coverage of the big ideas in astronomy. For self-study purposes for those interested in astronomy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Slater and Adams present many practical tips for teaching astronomy courses to general audiences. This book, written in a delightfully lucid and engaging style, is an excellent resource for both the beginning and experienced astronomy instructor." — Professor Harry L. Shipman, University of Delaware

"This book is like a trusted aunt: broad in viewpoint, practical and generous in advice, and respectful of your intelligence and motivation. Yet, it has the kick and detail to remind you that the authors too have often faced a room full of astronomy students and wondered if there is a better way for them to learn astronomy. I can't think of a better book for the beginning or experienced astronomy teacher who wants to thoughtfully examine the culture of the introductory astronomy classroom, and has the courage to apply the acid test: what works." — Dr. Stephen Pompea, Editor, Great Ideas for Teaching Astronomy

"Student-centered instruction that actively engages their minds, with lots of peer interaction, plenty of formative assessment integrated with instruction, and a focus on concepts. Tim Slater and Jeff Adams have brought those evidence-based hows together in this book, the first compilation of its kind. Here you will find tools—not tricks!—to make your astronomy classes more effective and exciting, to keep the electricity flowing throughout the semester. You will find a diagnostic survey to assess conceptual understanding, and an attitude survey to probe changes in students' attitudes toward astronomy in particular and science in general. Adams and Slater write from their experiences in reforming their courses." — Professor Michael Zeilik, University of New Mexico

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780130466303
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley
  • Publication date: 7/24/2002
  • Series: Educational Innovation-Astronomy Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 167
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Imagine, if you will, an introductory astronomy classroom where all students pay attention during your lectures, come to class having studied the assigned reading, and have thoughtful and insightful questions ready to pose. Because of your carefully planned sequence of topics, they understand the big ideas in astronomy. Because of your instruction, they can answer challenging questions. Because of your contagious enthusiasm, they adopt a positive view about science even though they are predominantly nonscience majors. Is this pure fantasy? Honestly, it might be—nevertheless, some aspects are certainly achievable. But, just what exactly do busy faculty have to do to make progress in this direction?

Our goal in writing this book is to present a mix of tried-and-true teaching strategies, results from research in teaching and learning, and some of our own "in the trenches" experiences to help faculty interested in engaging in a process of continual improvement designed to enhance student outcomes and teacher satisfaction. Some of the ideas presented here will definitely work in your course while others will need some, possibly significant, adaptation. To be clear, we are not advocating that all of these ideas must be, or even should be, implemented uncritically. However, we firmly believe that reflecting on how your course might look different, and how your students could be different as a result of your course, is a healthy exercise that too few faculty take time to pursue.

Just so you know where we are coming from, we both teach in large-enrollment environments in large universities where our students are nonscience majors, think of themselves as predominantly math and science phobic, and generally enroll for the express purpose of fulfilling a general science requirement. In other words, astronomy seemed like the most painless of the choices available to them. Accordingly, the focus of this book is on this large-enrollment environment; however, it is our experience that most ideas that work at all in very large classes work even better when adapted to smaller-enrollment courses.

We both actively conduct research on the teaching and learning of physics and astronomy and allocate considerable amounts of our time to curriculum development. Our thinking about teaching and learning in astronomy has been profoundly influenced by the results of physics education research, which has repeatedly demonstrated that students are often able to convince their professors that they understand a concept when they actually have only a superficial knowledge of it. Further, we have adopted a view that most of our students are not like us—they do not learn best through lectures, no matter how clearly presented, and the questions that most interest us as scientists are not always the same questions that engage nonscience majors. You are certainly welcome to disagree with these perspectives at a variety of levels—certainly even we do not adhere to them 100% of the time—but we state them so that you can understand the nature of our commentary.

We would like to thank Dr. Dana Lehr and Dr. Christopher Sirola far their careful review of the first draft of this manuscript and Patricia Daly for her careful copyediting of the final version. Any remaining errors are the fault of the authors.

Achieving teaching excellence takes time. It requires honest reflection, careful listening to students, and repeated revision and fine-tuning of approaches. But, what a worthy goal to pursue!

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foreword.

Preface.

1. Introduction.

2. Goals and Objectives.

3. Teaching for Understanding: Recent Results from Physics and Astronomy Education Research.

4. Designing an Effective Syllabus.

5. Lecturing for Active Participation.

6. Implementing Small-Group Collaborative Learning.

7. Strategies for Writing Effective Multiple-Choice Test Items.

8. Alternatives to Multiple-Choice Tests.

9. Course Evaluations: Finding Out What's Working...and What Isn't.

10. The Teaching Portfolio: Demonstrating Excellence in Teaching.

Appendix A: Seasonal Stars Lecture Tutorial.

Appendix B: Sample Think-Pair-Share Questions.

Appendix C: Astronomy Diagnostic Test.

Appendix D: Bloom's Taxonomy.

Appendix E: Collaborative Learning Tasks.

Appendix F: Sample Learning Objectives.

Appendix G: Attitude Survey.

Appendix H. Astronomy Education Research Annotated Bibliography.

References.

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Preface

Imagine, if you will, an introductory astronomy classroom where all students pay attention during your lectures, come to class having studied the assigned reading, and have thoughtful and insightful questions ready to pose. Because of your carefully planned sequence of topics, they understand the big ideas in astronomy. Because of your instruction, they can answer challenging questions. Because of your contagious enthusiasm, they adopt a positive view about science even though they are predominantly nonscience majors. Is this pure fantasy? Honestly, it might be—nevertheless, some aspects are certainly achievable. But, just what exactly do busy faculty have to do to make progress in this direction?

Our goal in writing this book is to present a mix of tried-and-true teaching strategies, results from research in teaching and learning, and some of our own "in the trenches" experiences to help faculty interested in engaging in a process of continual improvement designed to enhance student outcomes and teacher satisfaction. Some of the ideas presented here will definitely work in your course while others will need some, possibly significant, adaptation. To be clear, we are not advocating that all of these ideas must be, or even should be, implemented uncritically. However, we firmly believe that reflecting on how your course might look different, and how your students could be different as a result of your course, is a healthy exercise that too few faculty take time to pursue.

Just so you know where we are coming from, we both teach in large-enrollment environments in large universities where our students are nonscience majors, think of themselves as predominantly math and science phobic, and generally enroll for the express purpose of fulfilling a general science requirement. In other words, astronomy seemed like the most painless of the choices available to them. Accordingly, the focus of this book is on this large-enrollment environment; however, it is our experience that most ideas that work at all in very large classes work even better when adapted to smaller-enrollment courses.

We both actively conduct research on the teaching and learning of physics and astronomy and allocate considerable amounts of our time to curriculum development. Our thinking about teaching and learning in astronomy has been profoundly influenced by the results of physics education research, which has repeatedly demonstrated that students are often able to convince their professors that they understand a concept when they actually have only a superficial knowledge of it. Further, we have adopted a view that most of our students are not like us—they do not learn best through lectures, no matter how clearly presented, and the questions that most interest us as scientists are not always the same questions that engage nonscience majors. You are certainly welcome to disagree with these perspectives at a variety of levels—certainly even we do not adhere to them 100% of the time—but we state them so that you can understand the nature of our commentary.

We would like to thank Dr. Dana Lehr and Dr. Christopher Sirola far their careful review of the first draft of this manuscript and Patricia Daly for her careful copyediting of the final version. Any remaining errors are the fault of the authors.

Achieving teaching excellence takes time. It requires honest reflection, careful listening to students, and repeated revision and fine-tuning of approaches. But, what a worthy goal to pursue!

Read More Show Less

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