Ranking Tasks for Introductory Astronomy

Developed by: David Hudgins, Kevin Lee, and Edward Prather

middle schoolhigh schoolintro collegeinter-mediateupper levelgrad school   other

Intro College Conceptual

Lecture - Large (30+ students)  Lecture - Small (<30 students)  Recitation/Discussion Session  Homework  Studio

What? Conceptual exercises in which students make comparative judgments to identify the order of various situations based on a physical outcome or result. Analyzing multiple scenarios requires students to think more deeply about the critical features that distinguish one situation from another.

Why? Ranking tasks have been validated across STEM disciplines as a tool to promote spatial cognition. NAEP Ranking Tasks provide "just enough" background information to encourage inductive/deductive processes while avoiding cognitive overload. Online or downloadable as pdf. Flash must be enabled.

Why not? Limited number of topics available.

Student skills developed

Designed for:
  • Conceptual understanding

Instructor effort required

  • Low

You can download ranking tasks for introductory astronomy for free from Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska Lincoln or from the Center for Astronomy Education.

Bronze Validation
This is the third highest level of research validation, corresponding to:
  • at least 1 of the "based on" categories
  • at least 1 of the "demonstrated to improve" categories
  • at least 1 of the "studied using" categories
(Categories shown below)

Research Validation Summary

Based on Research Into:

  • theories of how students learn
  • student ideas about specific topics

Demonstrated to Improve:

  • conceptual understanding
  • problem-solving skills
  • lab skills
  • beliefs and attitudes
  • attendance
  • retention of students
  • success of underrepresented groups
  • performance in subsequent classes

Studied using:

  • cycle of research and redevelopment
  • student interviews
  • classroom observations
  • analysis of written work
  • research at multiple institutions
  • research by multiple groups
  • peer-reviewed publication