This research explores student perception of collaborative learning and comprehension of electromagnetic radiation in a university level introductory astronomy class. Collaborative learning is an instructional strategy in which small groups of students complete a common task such as answering a question, discussing a concept, creating a presentation, or conducting an experiment. Collaborative learning changes students' and teachers' roles in classrooms by shifting the focus from the teacher to the student-centered collaborative group. Collaborative learning may support students’ comprehension of the course material through peer discussion and input, in order to construct knowledge with the help of their peers. This research seeks to explore student perception of collaborative learning in an introductory astronomy class through case study. Also, student comprehension of electromagnetic radiation is assessed by pretest and posttest. A review of the literature shows that while there have been extensive studies on collaborative learning, the effects of collaborative learning in the discipline of astronomy at the university level have not been widely researched. The analysis of the quantitative data supports collaborative learning as a means of improving student comprehension. Observation of student engagement in collaborative learning as well as participant interviews indicate that students generally hold a positive perception of working in a small collaborative group environment, but they found collaborative interaction in a large expert group to be problematic, stressful, and detrimental to the collaborative learning process.
Donna Governor, Holly Verhasselt, Jay Dunn
- Date submitted
19 July 2022