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Investigating Student Ideas About Cosmology III: Big Bang Theory, Expansion, Age, and History of the Universe
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Figures

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Figure 3.1.

Pre-course Homework Essay. Thematic Coding. References to the Big Bang Theory,  = 26

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Figure 3.2.

Interviews Prior to In-Depth Instruction. Thematic Coding.

Q: Describe the Big Bang Theory,  = 5

Image of Figure 3.3.

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Figure 3.3.

Interviews Prior to In-Depth Instruction. Thematic Coding.

Q: Evidence for the Big Bang Theory,  = 5

Image of Figure 3.4a.

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Figure 3.4a.

Exam 3. Essay Question. Thematic Coding.

Q: Describe the Big Bang Model,  = 43

Image of Figure 3.4b.

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Figure 3.4b.

Final Exam. Essay Question. Thematic Coding.

Q: Describe the Big Bang Model,  = 45

Image of Figure 3.5.

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Figure 3.5.

Interviews After In-Depth Instruction. Thematic Coding.

Q: Describe the Big Bang Theory,  = 5

Image of Figure 3.6.

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Figure 3.6.

Interviews After In-Depth Instruction. Thematic Coding.

Q: Evidence for the Big Bang Theory,  = 5

Image of Figure 3.7a.

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Figure 3.7a.

Exam 3. Essay Question. Thematic Coding.

Q: Describe two pieces of observational evidence for the Big Bang Model,  = 30

Image of Figure 3.7b.

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Figure 3.7b.

Final Exam. Essay Question. Thematic Coding.

Q: Describe two pieces of observational evidence for the Big Bang Model,  = 20

Image of Figure 4.1.

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Figure 4.1.

Pre-course Homework Essay. Thematic Coding.

Q: Describe how you think the Universe changes over time, if at all. (For example… Do objects in the Universe move around and if so, how?)  34

Image of Figure 4.2.

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Figure 4.2.

Interviews Prior to In-Depth Instruction. Thematic Coding.

Q: How has the Universe changed over time?  3

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Figure 4.3.

Interviews After In-Depth Instruction. Thematic Coding.

Q: How has the Universe changed over time?  9

Image of Figure 5.1.

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Figure 5.1.

Pre-course Homework Essay. Thematic Coding.

Q: What is the age of the Universe?  = 40

Image of Figure 5.2.

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Figure 5.2.

Interviews Prior to In-Depth Instruction. Thematic Coding.

Q: What is the age of the Universe?  = 5

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Figure 5.3.

Interviews After In-Depth Instruction. Thematic Coding.

Q: What is the age of the Universe?  = 6

Image of Figure 5.4.

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Figure 5.4.

Pre-Instruction Interviews. Thematic Coding.

Q: How do we know the age of the Universe?  = 4

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Figure 5.5.

Post-Instruction Interviews. Thematic Coding.

Q: How do we know the age of the Universe?  = 6

Image of Figure 5.6a.

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Figure 5.6a.

Exam 3. Essay Question. Thematic Coding.

How do we know the age of the Universe?  = 44

Image of Figure 5.6b.

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Figure 5.6b.

Final Exam. Essay Question. Thematic Coding.

How do we know the age of the Universe?  = 48

Image of Figure 6.1.

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Figure 6.1.

Pre-course Homework Essay. Thematic Coding.

Q: Timeline for Cosmological Events,  33

Image of Figure 6.2.

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Figure 6.2.

Post-Instruction Interviews. Thematic Coding.

Q: Timeline for Cosmological Events,  = 3

Image of Figure 6.3a.

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Figure 6.3a.

Exam 3. Essay Question. Thematic Coding.

Q: Briefly describe 4 cosmologically important events in the history of the Universe. For each event, give the approximate age of the Universe and what conditions were like then = 43

Image of Figure 6.3b.

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Figure 6.3b.

Final Exam. Essay Question. Thematic Coding.

Q: Briefly describe 4 cosmologically important events in the history of the Universe. For each event, give the approximate age of the Universe and what conditions were like then,  = 18

Tables

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Table 2.

Relative schedule of topics, cosmology-related lab activities, and data collection points. The schedule was the same for all five semesters of data collection. Interviews with students (labeled A-O) were collected over four semesters

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Table 3.

Exams Essay Question. Aggregate Results

Q: Describe the Big Bang Model ( Note-8 ).

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Table 3.

Exam 3. T/F. Aggregate Result.  = 37

Q: The Universe began with a giant explosion, like a bomb. True/

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Table 3.

Final Exam. Aggregate Result.  = 44

Q: According to modern ideas and observations, what can be said about the location of the center of our expanding universe?

  • a.  The earth is at the center
  • b.  The Sun is at the center
  • c.  The Milky Way Galaxy is at the center
  • d. 

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Table 3.

Exams. Essay Question. Aggregate Results

Q: Describe two pieces of observational evidence for the Big Bang Model.

Note: if they only listed the term “CMB,” but included no description, we placed the response within the appropriate “-L” (for “list”) category.

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Table 4.

Exams. Aggregate Results

The drawing below represents the same group of galaxies at two different times during the history of the Universe. Use this drawing to answer the following question:

Which one of the following conclusions can you draw about the expansion of the universe from the drawing shown?

  • a.  Galaxy C is the center of the universe.
  • b.  All galaxies move the same amount during the expansion of the universe.
  • c.  Nearby galaxies move more during the expansion of the universe.
  • d. 

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Table 4.

Exam 3. Aggregate Result.  = 18

The drawing below represents the same group of galaxies at two different times during the history of the Universe. Use this drawing to answer the following question:

For an observer in galaxy B, which of the following rankings lists the speeds (from fastest to slowest) at which galaxies A, C, and D would be moving away?

  • a.  A > C > D
  • b.  D > A > C
  • c.  C > D > A
  • d. 

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Table 4.

Exams. Aggregate Results

Galaxy X is measured to have a bigger cosmological redshift than Galaxy Y. Which galaxy is farther away?

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Table 5.

Interviews (including both before and after in-depth instruction)

Q: Before taking this course, what did you think was the age of the Universe?  = 7

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Table 5.

Exam 3. Aggregate Result.  = 52

Based on observations of the universal expansion, the age of the universe is about

  • a.  14 million years
  • b.  14,000 years
  • c. 
  • d.  14 trillion years

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Table 5.

Exams. Essay Question. Aggregate Results

Part 1. What is the approximate age of the universe?

Correct if answer given is between 13 and 15 billion years old.

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Table 5.

Exams. Essay Question. Aggregate Results

Q: How do we know the age of the Universe?

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Table 6.

Exam 3. T/F. Aggregate Result

The faster the rate of expansion, the older the age of the universe. T /

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Table 6.

Exams. FIB. Aggregate Results

The slower the rate of expansion, the the age of the universe.

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Table 6.

Exams. Essay Question. Aggregate Results

Q: Briefly describe 4 cosmologically important events in the history of the Universe. For each event, give the approximate age of the Universe and what conditions were like then.

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Table 3.

Exam 3. Essay Question

Q: Describe the Big Bang Model.

A: The Big Bang Model explains how the Universe changes over time. The Universe was hotter and denser in the past, and has been expanding and cooling over time.

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Table 3.

Final Exam. Essay Question

Q: Describe the Big Bang Model.

A: The Big Bang Model explains how the Universe changes over time. The Universe was hotter and denser in the past, and has been expanding and cooling over time.

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Table 3.

Exam 3. T/F

Q: The Universe began with a giant explosion, like a bomb. T/.

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Table 3.

Final Exam. MC

Q: According to modern ideas and observations, what can be said about the location of the center of our expanding universe?

  • a.  The earth is at the center
  • b.  The Sun is at the center
  • c.  The Milky Way Galaxy is at the center
  • d. 

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Table 3.

Exam 3. Essay Question

Q: Describe two pieces of observational evidence for the Big Bang Model.

(Must have 2 out of the following 3 to be ‘Correct’)

  • 1)  We observe that the Universe is expanding (Variation: By simulating the evolution of our Universe in reverse, we can recreate the conditions for the Big Bang Model's description of the early Universe.)
  • 2)  The composition of atoms is consistent with the Big Bang Model. The observed amounts of light chemical elements, such as Deuterium, Helium, and Lithium could not have formed in stars. These elements were created in the first few minutes, when the universe was hot enough for nuclear fusion to occur.
  • 3)  The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), a nearly uniform glow of microwave radiation in all directions, with a temperature of 2.73 K. (: if they only listed the term “CMB,” but included no description, we placed the response in the appropriate “-L,” for “list,” category.)

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Table 3.

Final Exam. Essay Question

Q: Describe two pieces of observational evidence for the Big Bang Model.

Must have 2 out of the following 3 to be correct:

  • 1)  We observe that the Universe is expanding. (Variation: By simulating the evolution of our Universe in reverse, we can recreate the conditions for the Big Bang Model's description of the early Universe.)
  • 2)  The composition of atoms is consistent with the Big Bang Model. The observed amounts of light chemical elements, such as Deuterium, Helium, and Lithium could not have formed in stars. These elements were created in the first few minutes, when the universe was hot enough for nuclear fusion to occur.
  • 3)  The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), a nearly uniform glow of microwave radiation in all directions, with a temperature of 2.73 K. (Note: if they only listed the term CMB, but included no description, we mark as ‘L’, for ‘list’.)

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Table 4.

Exam3. MC

The drawing below represents the same group of galaxies at two different times during the history of the Universe. Use this drawing to answer the following question:

Which one of the following conclusions can you draw about the expansion of the universe from the drawing shown?

  • a.  Galaxy C is the center of the universe.
  • b.  All galaxies move the same amount during the expansion of the universe.
  • c.  Nearby galaxies move more during the expansion of the universe.
  • d. 

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Table 4.

Final Exam. MC

The drawing below represents the same group of galaxies at two different times during the history of the Universe. Use this drawing to answer the following question:

Which one of the following conclusions can you draw about the expansion of the universe from the drawing shown?

  • a.  Galaxy C is the center of the universe.
  • b.  All galaxies move the same amount during the expansion of the universe.
  • c.  Nearby galaxies move more during the expansion of the universe.
  • d. 

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Table 4.

Exam 3. MC

The drawing below represents the same group of galaxies at two different times during the history of the Universe. Use this drawing to answer the following question:

For an observer in galaxy B, which of the following rankings lists the speeds (from fastest to slowest) at which galaxies A, C, and D would be moving away?

  • a.  A > C > D
  • b.  D > A > C
  • c.  C > D > A
  • d. 

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Table 4.

Exam 3

v1. Galaxy X is measured to have a bigger cosmological redshift than Galaxy Y. Which galaxy is farther away? / Y

v2. Galaxy C is measured to have a smaller cosmological redshift than Galaxy D. Which galaxy is farther away? C /

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Table 4.

Final Exam

v1. Galaxy X is measured to have a bigger cosmological redshift than Galaxy Y. Which galaxy is farther away? / Y

v2. Galaxy C is measured to have a smaller cosmological redshift than Galaxy D. Which galaxy is farther away? C /

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Table 5.

Exam 3. MC

Based on observations of the universal expansion, the age of the universe is about

  • a.  14 million years
  • b.  14,000 years
  • c. 
  • d.  14 trillion years

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Table 5.

Exam 3. Essay question

Part 1. What is the approximate age of the universe?

Correct if answer given is between 13 and 15 billion years old.

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Table 5.

Final Exam. Essay question

Part 1.What is the approximate age of the universe?

Correct if answer given is between 13 and 15 billion years old.

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Table 5.

Exam 3. Essay question

Part 2

v1. How do we know the age of the Universe? i.e. Describe the measurements and calculations you would use to determine it. (Hint: how would we tell if it's older vs. younger?)

v2. How do we know the age of the Universe? i.e. Describe the measurements and calculations you would use to determine it. (Hint: Think about the Hubble's Law Lab: How did you determine the Hubble constant? How can you use the Hubble constant to determine the age of the Universe? Also, think about how you could tell if it's older vs. younger?)

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Table 5.

Final Exam. Essay Question

Part 2

v1. How do we know? i.e. Describe the measurements and calculations you would use to determine it. (Hint: how would we tell if it's older vs. younger?)

v2. How do we know? i.e. Describe the measurements and calculations you would use to determine it. (Hint: Think about the Hubble's Law Lab: How did you determine the Hubble constant? How can you use the Hubble constant to determine the age of the Universe? Also, think about how you could tell if it's older vs. younger?)

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Table 6.

Exam 3. T/F

The faster the rate of expansion, the older the age of the universe. T /

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Table 6.

Exam 3. FIB

v1. The slower the rate of expansion, the the age of the universe.

v2. The faster the rate of expansion, the the age of the universe.

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Table 6.

Final Exam. FIB

v1. The slower the rate of expansion, the the age of the universe.

v2. The faster the rate of expansion, the the age of the universe.

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Table 6.

Exam 3. Essay Question

Q: Briefly describe 4 cosmologically important events in the history of the Universe. For each event, give the approximate age of the Universe and what conditions were like then. (Do NOT include events specific only to Earth, such as the appearance of dinosaurs).

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Table 6.

Final Exam. Essay Question

Q: Briefly describe 4 cosmologically important events in the history of the Universe. For each event, give the approximate age of the Universe and what conditions were like then. (Do NOT include events specific only to Earth, such as the appearance of dinosaurs).

Abstract

We have undertaken a multi-semester study of student ideas in an undergraduate general education astronomy integrated lecture and lab course with a focus on active learning at an urban, minority serving institution. We collected individual interviews ( = 15) and course artifacts ( ∼ 60), such as pre-course homework essays and midterm and final exam questions in a variety of formats. Continuing our work from a previous study (Coble 2013), here we examine student ideas with regard to the Big Bang Theory, expansion, age, and history of the Universe. We find that a significant fraction of students hold alternate conceptions, including: the Big Bang Theory describes the creation of planets and/or our Solar System; the “Big Bang” refers to an explosion within a small point or mass; there is no evidence in support of the Big Bang Theory; the Universe has always existed; and stars, galaxies, and/or planets formed at the same time or very soon after the creation of the Universe.

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752b84549af89a08dbdd7fdb8b9568b5 journal.articlezxybnytfddd
Scitation: Investigating Student Ideas About Cosmology III: Big Bang Theory, Expansion, Age, and History of the Universe
http://aip.metastore.ingenta.com/content/aas/journal/aer/12/1/10.3847/AER2013016
10.3847/AER2013016
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