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Abstract Title: Investigating Undergraduate Astronomy Students’ Ideas about Black Holes
Abstract: Astronomers' understanding of black holes is improving rapidly, for example with the recent achievements of the Event Horizon Telescope's image of a supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy M87 and the LIGO detections of merging black holes. As the science continues to develop and captivate the public imagination through traditional and social media, we aim to understand how undergraduate students think about black holes. A total of N = 545 responses were obtained from undergraduate students in general education astronomy courses at six different universities, through open-ended written surveys given prior to instruction. By iterative thematic coding the surveys, we found the most popular description include: "black holes suck everything", "nothing can escape from blackholes due to gravity" and "black holes are formed after the explosion of a star". Very few students said, "I don't know" or did not respond. Studying these responses gives insight into students' ideas, which can be leveraged and refined during instruction.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session I
Poster Number: A53

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Priyadarshini Gokuldass
San Francisco State University
150 Font Blvd.
Apt. 2B
San Francisco, CA 94132
Phone: +1(773)703-1867
and Co-Presenter(s)
Kimberly Coble, San Francisco State University.
Mallory Conlon, University of Wisconsin.