Issue 1 Table of Contents


Page 1.  Editor’s Welcome 

Page 3.  Assistant Editor’s Welcome  

  Section A – Research

Page A5.   Comparison of Student Learning About Space in Immersive and Computer Environments    File 257K 

     Laurie Zimmerman, Stacia Spillane, Patricia Reiff, and Carolyn Sumners

This paper is the summary of the external evaluation of We Choose Space, a 24-minute planetarium show for audiences “who dream of space and wonder about human spaceflight after Shuttle,” in which we compared the student learning about space in digital and computer environments immediately afterwards and six weeks later.  Paired  t-tests and an independent t-test were used to compare the amount of learning that students achieved on the questionnaire.  Interest questionnaires were administered to participants in formal (public school) settings and focus groups were conducted in informal (museum camp and educational festival) settings.  Overall results from the informal and formal educational setting indicated that there was a statistically significant increase in test scores after viewing We Choose Space in both the portable Discovery Dome (9.75) as well as via the computer (8.88), when tested immediately after viewing.  Most importantly, however, long-term retention of the material tested on the questionnaire was significantly better for the students who viewed it in the portable dome over those who learned by computer.  Six weeks after viewing the content, the Dome students retained their gains in test scores (10.47), whereas, computer-using students had lost most of their gain (3.49), and the improvements over the initial baseline for the computer learners were not statistically significant.


Page A21.   A Direct Examination of College Student Misconceptions in Astronomy:  A New Instrument   File 227K

     Andrej Favia, Neil F. Comins, Geoffrey L. Thorpe, and David J. Batuski

This is the first in a series of papers in which we examine the
persistence of 215 common misconceptions in astronomy and suggest
correlations among them in an effort to improve the effectiveness of astronomy
instruction. Each misconception is based on a commonly-held incorrect belief
by college students taking introductory astronomy. At the University of Maine,
the course is taught in alternating semesters by Neil F. Comins and David J.
Batuski. A total of 639 students over six semesters between 2009 and 2013
completed a survey based on these misconceptions. The survey is a new
instrument in that it permits one to indicate either endorsement or rejection of
each misconception at various stages in one’s life. We present two versions of
the survey: one in which all statements are presented as misconceptions, and one
in which both true and false statements are presented. We test the validity of the
survey data and present a preliminary analysis of the data for both versions of
the survey. We show that the length of the survey and the presentation order of
the statements are unlikely to affect the data. We also show that the reported
degree of misconception endorsement may be affected by the phrasing of the
statements, that is, whether or not the statements are all false or a mixture of true
and false statements.

 Section B – General Articles

Page B41.  Planetary Biosphere Analogs with Extremophiles; Informal Science Education and Inquiry by Undergraduates Attending a Two-YearCollege   File 318K

     Pamela A. Maher and Camille Naaktgeboren 

Exploring exoplanets in situ isn’t feasible now, but that doesn’t stop student interest in simulating it with extreme environment exploration on Earth.


Page B45.  No, Dogs, No!  Assessing Moon Phase Misconceptions Using Children’s Literature   File 58K

     Robert Swanson

Literature is abundant regarding misconceptions on Moon phases and children’s books, but have you thought about using them to assess your college students?


Page B48.  Cover Thoughts – A Prior Knowledge Matrix   File 70K

     Lawrence Krumenaker

The photographs on the issue cover aren’t random pretty pictures.  Like the Issue itself it shows five objects astronomically first in some historical or physical parameter context.  They can be used in a 2-dimensional matrix to learn how much your students know about the objects identities, sizes, and whether they are solar or stellar system bodies.


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 Feedback, comments, questions, and so on are welcomed, particularly in regards to the presentation style, readability, etc. of this Issue.  Email the Editor at .