International Geologiical Congress - Oslo 2008


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IEE-03 Earth system geoscience education


Exploring student metal model of the real moon motion trajectory relative to the sun


Chien-Hua Hsiao, National Taiwan Normal University (Taiwan)
Chun-Yen Chang, National Taiwan Normal University (Taiwan)
Ting-Kuang Yeh, National Taiwan Normal University (Taiwan)


The relative motion and spatial relationships among the Moon, Earth, and Sun (MES) have been regarded as one of the basic and most important concepts in the secondary astronomy class. The purpose of this study was to examine students' mental model and reasoning process in solving a spatial-related problem regarding 'the real Moon motion trajectory relative to the Sun' via both diagram drawing and interviewing method. The participants were 300 students ranged from 6th graders to college undergraduate students. Both quantitative and qualitative analysis techniques were used to analyze the data. Students were required not only to draw a diagram to represent 'what was the motion trajectory of the Moon in one month relative to the Sun' but also were interviewed to explain their reasoning process behind their own Moon, Earth and Sun diagram models. Three major types of motion (track) model, including (a)wave curve(correct conception), (b)helical curve(misconception) and (c)parallel line(misconception), were presented in the participants' diagrams. Results from in-depth interviews indicated that: (1) some of the students' misconceptions are involuntarily resulted from scientific illustrations/diagrams which were presented through popular Earth science (text)books or animations introduced by instructional materials in the class, (2) the gender and visual-spatial ability differences seem to exist in terms of performance on the Moon, Earth, and Sun task, and finally (3) students' background knowledge on this topic plays an important role when drawing a scientifically correct diagram. In light of students' difficulty in observing and comprehending this particular MES model, it is suggested that students need more resources and efforts in terms of prior knowledge and appropriate instructional models to develop some scientifically sound mental model associated with this topic. Furthermore, this study recommends that a good instructor should pay more attention to the influences (both good and bad) of Earth science textbooks and instructional materials, and also closely attend to the individual differences when trying to promote students' mental model construction.


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