Educational and cognitive science is showing that learning is a highly
individual process and that people learn at different rates and in different
ways. Some students can receive and process information just by listening
(auditory learners), but many students depend on a combination of senses
and time to think and reflect before they can learn effectively. Indeed,
most students learn best in an active environment with a strong emphasis
on teamwork, problem-solving, and hands-on experience.
There are good and tested approaches to teaching a student body with diverse
needs, and many fit under the umbrella of cooperative learning (e.g. group
learning activities, lecture segments, classroom demonstrations, and peer
instruction). However, despite the research-based recommendations of methods
for effective teaching and learning, and a toolbox of well tested teaching
practices, the scheduled face-to-face time with the students is often too
short to both provide them with the knowledge and tools they need to solve
problems and learn, and engage them in active learning activities.
The Extra-Solar Planet Project tests the use of a web-based
alternative to the
traditional astronomy college - the web-lecture. The web-lecture is produced
using the Internet and innovative computer technology that offers a simultaneous
and synchronized presentation of video, audio, and slides, and additional
technological advantages to the benefit of both the students and the professor.
Along with this technology, we examined the effect on student learning of
participation in "active" or "passive" learning environments during the review
section following the web-lecture. Student learning is assessed from analysis
of pre- and post-test data. Follow the above link to read a journal paper
(submitted to Astronomy Education Review; http://aer.noao.edu/cgi-bin/new.pl),
and check out the web-lecture itself here. A poster presentation of the Extra-Solar
Planet Project can be found here.