Common misconceptions about everyday astronomy-related phenomena among students in the 9th grade

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Common misconceptions about everyday astronomy-related phenomena among students in the 9th grade

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Publication Bachelor thesis
Title Common misconceptions about everyday astronomy-related phenomena among students in the 9th grade
Author(s) Strömbäck, Gustav
Date 2012
English abstract
Students of all ages host a wide variety of scientifically inaccurate ideas and conceptions about everyday astronomical phenomena, such as the seasons, the moon phases, and gravity. The field of Astronomy Education Research has over the last decade experienced an accelerating growth, although the majority of studies have been conducted in the USA. In this work, the 9th grade students of a typical Swedish school were surveyed by means of a questionnaire in order to probe their conceptual understanding of several key concepts in astronomy. In the end, the number of respondents amassed to a total of 90. The results were analyzed with a constructivist approach in light of conceptual change theory and phenomenological primitives. In conjunction to this a postmodern view of the problem in question is presented. The compiled numbers were compared to the results of American high school students found in the large database of A Private Universe Project. The two samples were found to display only minor differences. Most notably, only around one in ten Swedish students could correctly account for the origin of the seasons, and only a very small percentage could point out the true distance-relation between the Earth and the Moon. In addition, approximately half of the students did not know the reason for why the Moon changes phase, and one in every four or five students believes there are stars between the planets in the Solar system. An analysis of the student sample was also made after separating out students who will obtain further education in astronomy in upper secondary school. With only one exception, no differences between the groups were found, suggesting that the misconceptions treated in this survey are present among all groups of students up to a certain educational level. However, in the group not intending to study more astronomy an astonishing 72 % had incorrect beliefs regarding the day/night cycle, indicating a possible fundamental lack of conceptual understanding about one of the most everyday astronomy-related concepts.
Publisher Malmö högskola/Lärarutbildningen
Pages 51
Language swe (iso)
Subject(s) astronomy education research
astronomy
constructivism
misconceptions
conceptual change theory
survey
questionnaire
postmodernism
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/13722 (link to this page)

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