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Abstract Title: Exploring Student Difficulties with Introductory Cosmology
Abstract: Introductory-level cosmology is known to be challenging for beginning astronomy students, given its many abstract concepts that can't be directly observed. These concepts provide the foundations for future learning, and so a strong conceptual acuity is important for success as an undergraduate.  This study investigates student understanding of basic concepts from cosmology in three different first- and second-year Astronomy courses at the University of St Andrews.  We have collected and analyzed quantitative (student surveys) and qualitative data (student interviews), and compare results with a previously-published study at a different institution.  The outcomes demonstrate that certain alternative conceptions were more prevalent among students at St Andrews than in the previous study; and that students had particular difficulty interpreting graphical representations of an expanding universe.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Charles Baily
University of St Andrews
School of Physics & Astronomy
North Haugh
St Andrews, Fife, UK, Non U.S. KY16 9SS
and Co-Presenter(s)
Amelia Sandbach and Anne-Marie Weijmans