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Using Citizen Science in the Online Astronomy Classroom: A New Curricular Model for Improving Learners’ Data Literacy and Self Efficacy

Presentation #503.02 in the session “Astronomy Education in a Rapidly Changing World: Best Practices from Research and Instruction”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
Using Citizen Science in the Online Astronomy Classroom: A New Curricular Model for Improving Learners’ Data Literacy and Self Efficacy

Now more than ever, there is a strong demand from faculty teaching online courses for classroom-tested curricular materials. To meet that demand, we have developed a new set of online science investigations that are developmentally appropriate for general education astronomy students, that focus on science topics central to the ASTRO 101 curriculum, and have an instructional pathway that gives students a robust experience analyzing contemporary data. We present an example of our curricular model developed around transiting exoplanets. We begin by using a Lecture-Tutorial approach to develop learners’ foundational understanding of transits; then learners identify transits from TESS data using the Zooniverse platform, and finally students are given access to data from the NASA Exoplanet Archive which they use to characterize real planetary systems - including our own Solar System. The pilot testing effort for our exoplanet activity began during the Fall 2020 semester with 13 introductory astronomy courses at seven participating universities. Preliminary findings from student surveys indicate that our online activity leads to increased data literacy, increased student reported self efficacy with regard to contributing to science, and a nearly unanimous interest in continued engagement in science through citizen science platforms like Zooniverse.


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