Powerful new observations and advances in computation and visualization have led to a revolution in our understanding of the structure, composition, and evolution of the universe. These gains have been vast, but their impact on education has been limited. Through analysis of pre-instructional open-ended surveys (N > 1200), course artifacts, and follow-up interviews, our research group has been classifying students' ideas about concepts important to modern cosmology. Informed by our research on student learning, we developed The Big Ideas in Cosmology, an immersive set of web-based learning modules that integrates text, figures, and visualizations with short and long interactive tasks and real cosmological data. This enables the transformation of general education astronomy and cosmology classes from primarily lecture and book-based courses to a more engaging format that builds important STEM skills. A preliminary evaluation with the general education astronomy and cosmology classes at a state university indicates that students using the modules made greater gains in their content knowledge compared to students using a traditional book and lecture format.
To learn more about The Big Ideas in Cosmology, watch the following 1-minute video from our publisher: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ER0Jxe0kOMc