ClassAction materials were created with the following ideas in mind:
- Astronomy is an extremly visual subject. Astronomy instruction typically involves images, diagrams, tables of data, and occasionally animations. There is no reason that interactive classroom materials should be any different. Thus, the majority of our questions incorporate all of these same visual sources of information used in astronomy instruction.
- Students learn through feedback and iteration. Most questions can be transformed by the instructor into slighly different versions. When students do poorly on a question and instruction must be given for students to understand the answer, it is useful to follow-up with a similar question over the same concept to determine if student understanding has improved.
- Science courses should be practical. Many astronomy concepts show up in everyday life (and many don't). But whenever possible we have tried to relate astronomical concepts to their everyday counterparts and those elements of astronomy that students actually observe.
- Misconceptions are rampant and well-entrenched among astronomy students. There are no miracle cures. We can only provide instructors with questions to identify misconeptions and ammunition and encouragement to overcome them. Considerable resources are provided to help the instructor provide feedback to the questions. These include outlines of the subject matter (think powerpoint slides), images, and interactive animations. In some questions hints and solutions are provided. These are powerful tools in the hands of an instructor sensitive to student misconceptions and motivated to combat them.
ClassAction modules were designed based on the following principles:
- ClassAction materials are varied and plentiful. All instructors teach astronomy differently and it is important to provide a wide range of materials in both content and difficulty level. If we have erred, it is on the side of inclusion. We hope that every instructor will be able to choose some subset of our materials appropriate for their approach to instruction.
- Most college level instructors are extremely busy and have very little time to develop instructional materials. Thus, we have endeavored to make ClassAction materials as convenient as possible.
A more thorough introduction to ClassAction pedagogy may be found in this document (pdf).