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An evaluation of secondary school students’ learning experiences with astronomy-based physics outreach activities

Bartlett, Sophie 2018. An evaluation of secondary school students’ learning experiences with astronomy-based physics outreach activities. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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England and Wales, as with many other countries across the world are faced with a large proportion of secondary school students who are disengaged with physics. Teachers are faced with immense pressure from accountability measures that have been seen to restrict innovation and creativity in the classroom. This study implemented a series of astronomy-based outreach activities that had been designed to apply a novel context to the curriculum and encourage an inquiry-based, student-centred classroom. Though astronomy has been described as a promising point of engagement and portrays widespread interest, no study is seen to evaluate the application of astronomy as a context for compulsory science or physics curricula. This study successfully achieves this through the implementation of a series of outreach activities that apply an inquiry-based pedagogy. The study focuses on the evaluation of their impact on students’ learning experiences in physics. However, findings are not limited to the outreach activities of this study and a robust framework is presented to other practitioners seeking to design and evaluate their outreach initiatives and teachers looking to implement them. The study also demonstrates that initiatives do not necessarily require large amounts of time or funding in order to have an impact. Though existing research is indicative that attitudes are withstanding and difficult to change, this study demonstrates the influence just a single lesson can have on students’ perceptions of their learning experiences and can encourage them to reconsider their predispositions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Q Science > QB Astronomy
Uncontrolled Keywords: physics education; outreach; astronomy education; context-based learning; secondary education; student attitudes
Funders: Dill Faulkes Educational Trust
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 14 May 2019
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2021 09:14

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