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Abstract Title: Probing student engagement of distances in astronomy
Abstract: Recent studies in South Africa [1] and Norway [2] indicated that students did poorly on questions regarding distances and sizes in astronomy. An intriguing observation is that students in both countries performed similarly despite marked educational and language differences. This suggests the possibility of deeper cognitive issues when dealing with scales beyond immediate human experience. We report on an exploratory study probing how students engage with distances that vary from tangible to intangible. We constructed and administered a short instrument in which three consecutive questions prompted explanations regarding a specific category of distance, to a cohort of introductory astronomy students at the University of Cape Town. The instrument as well as the results from a preliminary grounded analysis of the student responses will be presented.

[1] Rajpaul, V., Allie, S., & Blyth, S. L. (2014), PRPER
[2] Rajpaul, V. M., Lindstrøm, C., Engel, M. C., Brendehaug, M., & Allie, S. (2018), PRPER
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session I
Poster Number: A29

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Tshiamiso Makwela
University of Cape Town
Cape Town, 7700
and Co-Presenter(s)
Alexander Sivitilli, University of Cape Town
Dale Taylor, University of Cape Town
Sarah Blyth, University of Cape Town
Saalih Allie, University of Cape Town

Contributed Poster

Contributed Poster: Download the Contributed Poster