Enhancing Inquiry, Understanding, and Achievement in an Astronomy Multimedia Learning Environment

Abstract

As an example of design-based research, this study refined an assessment strategy for simultaneously enhancing inquiry-based learning and supporting achievement on conventional assessment measures. Astronomy Village ® : Investigating the Universe™ is a software program designed to engage secondary science students in authentic and inquiry-based learning over core topics in astronomy. The software was enhanced with a 20-hour curriculum and three levels of assessment to ensure successful inquiry experiences and high-stakes achievement. The first year implementation of Astronomy Village® yielded significant gains on a curriculum-oriented exam but not a standards-oriented test, and provided useful design insights that were integrated into the second year implementations. Significant gains were obtained on the test during the second year as well. It is expected that many existing inquiry-oriented science curricula might be similarly enhanced, and is suggested that a large-scale effort to do so might have a lasting impact on science education.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by a subcontract from the NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future (COTF) program at the Center for Educational Technologies (CET) at Wheeling Jesuit University to the University of Georgia Learning and Performance Support Laboratory. The opinions and ideas expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the sponsoring institutions. We wish to acknowledge the support and intellectual contributions of Dr. Steven McGee on this project, along with the rest of the research staff at the CET. We also wish to acknowledge our appreciation for the four teachers and their students who participated in this project. Sean Hendricks contributed to the research described in this paper, and was responsible for the developing the video coaches described here. Dionne Cross, Mary Ann Horne, and Aisha Stroman participated in the larger COTF project and contributed substantively to this study.

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Correspondence to Gita Taasoobshirazi.

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Taasoobshirazi, G., Zuiker, S.J., Anderson, K.T. et al. Enhancing Inquiry, Understanding, and Achievement in an Astronomy Multimedia Learning Environment. J Sci Educ Technol 15, 383–395 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-006-9028-0

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Keywords

  • assessment
  • science education
  • inquiry-based learning
  • technology