Teaching future teachers basic astronomy concepts—seasonal changes—at a time of reform in science education

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Abstract

Bearing in mind students' misconceptions about basic concepts in astronomy, the present study conducted a series of constructivist activities aimed at changing future elementary and junior high school teachers' conceptions about the cause of seasonal changes, and several characteristics of the Sun–Earth–Moon relative movements like Moon phases, Sun and Moon eclipses, and others. The activities and results concerning the cause of seasonal changes are reported. Both the experimental class and the control groups improved their grasp of basic astronomy concepts statistically significantly, although the experimental class made the most impressive progress of all. Regarding subjects relevant to this study (seasonal changes), only the experimental class showed a statistically significant improvement, which justifies the constructivist approach. We conclude that in implementing a reform in the science curriculum, the change has to include the subjects taught and also the way they are taught. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 43: 879–906, 2006

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