The Impact of Three-Dimensional Computational Modeling on Student Understanding of Astronomy Concepts: A Qualitative Analysis. Research Report
International Journal of Science Education Volume 26, Number 13, ISSN 0950-0693
In this study, we explore an alternate mode for teaching and learning the dynamic, three-dimensional (3D) relationships that are central to understanding astronomical concepts. To this end, we implemented an innovative undergraduate course in which we used inexpensive computer modeling tools. As the second of a two-paper series, this report focuses on the qualitative differences of students' understandings of both spatial and declarative knowledge domains as reflected by their two distinct learning environments--a traditional astronomy classroom and an experimental astronomy course grounded in problem-solving and modeling with dynamic, 3D, computational modeling software. We found that students who constructed 3D computational models tended to have a more scientifically sophisticated understanding of dynamic spatial relationships, whereas students in the traditional class developed more accurate understandings of the properties and general facts and figures regarding celestial bodies.
Hansen, J.A., Barnett, M., MaKinster, J.G. & Keating, T. (2004). The Impact of Three-Dimensional Computational Modeling on Student Understanding of Astronomy Concepts: A Qualitative Analysis. Research Report. International Journal of Science Education, 26(13), 1555-1575.