Cross-sectional study of students’ knowledge of sizes and distances of astronomical objects


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Physical Review Physics Education Research;Volume 14, Issue 2


American Physical Society

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This paper reports on the results from administering a modified version of the Introductory Astronomy Questionnaire (IAQ) to middle school students and preservice science teachers in Norway. Ranking tasks formed a key part of the instrument, and we detail a new method for analyzing ranking task data. One of our main findings was that even after instruction, a significant proportion of students held erroneous views and conceptions regarding sizes, distances, and the nature of basic astronomical entities, such as stars and planets. We argue that the commonalities between some of the issues we identified and those presented in extant studies—from a variety of countries, with samples ranging from junior high school students and undergraduates to primary school teachers—may point to deeper cognitiveissues inherent in, and possibly unique to, engaging with astronomy.




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