Planetarium Use In Introductory Astronomy Courses

Abstract

Many planetariums are situated at institutions of higher learning, but there is little documentation about how these facilities are being used. We present an analysis of a survey designed to explore planetarium use in introductory astronomy courses taught to undergraduates. The survey asked about 11 learning objectives, which were chosen through an investigation of online course descriptions at 10 universities in the United States. Planetarium users answered questions about what they are teaching, how long they are teaching it, and what media they are using to teach it. We distributed the survey to approximately 289 institutions around the United States which were categorized as institutions of learning in the online Worldwide Planetariums Database. There were 85 responses to the survey with 78 providing enough information to be useful. Results show that college and university planetariums are primarily being used to teach the night sky and that planetarium users at these institutions prefer to teach through unscripted use rather than scripted shows. We discuss potential implications to content development and further research in instructional methodology

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This paper was published in Clute Institute: Journals.

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