ASP2021: A Virtual Conference
11:00 AM - 11:50 AM: Concurrent Session 2D: 11:00 am PST (2:00 pm EST) - Oral Presentations
Adding Computational Activities to an Astronomy Course
Conference Strand: Teaching Introductory Astronomy – What are We Doing Now?
Raymond Zich, Illinois State University
Rebecca Rosenblatt, National Science Foundation
James DiCaro, Illinois State University
Abstract of Session/Presentation: We report on the impact of an instructional intervention incorporating computational activities into a one semester general astronomy course. Computation is an effective active learning tool for developing understanding of concepts, connecting concepts with mathematics, and associating science with prediction. Fifteen spreadsheet-based computational exercises were designed and integrated into an existing active learning astronomy curriculum. These activities were completed collaboratively, along with additional active learning tasks. Examples of the computational exercises are presented, along with the results of inclusion of the exercises. The reasons for introducing computational activities, benefits supporting the inclusion, and difficulties faced implementing the change will be discussed. Student learning pre to post was measured with the TOAST and LPCI. Free response surveys were used to explore student attitudes toward computational exercises and perceptions of the course. Assessment revealed TOAST correctness gains of 20%, LPCI correctness gains of 29%, and overall positive attitudes towards the computational activities.