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Science Education
Who Needs 3D When the Universe Is Flat?
written by Urban Eriksson
An overlooked feature in astronomy education is the need for students to learn to extrapolate three-dimensionality and the challenges that this may involve. Discerning critical features in the night sky that are embedded in dimensionality is a long-term learning process. Several articles have addressed the usefulness of three-dimensional (3D) simulations in astronomy education, but they have neither addressed what students discern nor the nature of that discernment. A Web-based questionnaire was designed using links to video clips drawn from a simulation video of travel through our galaxy and beyond. The questionnaire was completed by 137 participants from nine countries across a broad span of astronomy education. The descriptions provided by the participants were analyzed using hermeneutics in combination with a constant comparative approach to formulate six categories of discernment in relation to multidimensionality. These results are used to make the case that the ability to extrapolate three-dimensionality calls for the creation of meaningful motion parallax experiences.
Science Education: Volume 98, Issue 3, Pages 412–442
Subjects Levels Resource Types
- Astronomy Education
= Education Research
- Fundamentals
= Celestial Mechanics
= Night Sky
Education - Basic Research
- Assessment
= Instruments
- Student Characteristics
= Ability
- Lower Undergraduate
- Informal Education
- Upper Undergraduate
- Reference Material
= Article
PER-Central Type Intended Users Ratings
- PER Literature
- Educators
- Researchers
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Access Rights:
Free access
Does not have a copyright, license, or other use restriction.
AER, Disciplinary discernment, Extrapolating three-dimensionality, Representations, Simulations
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created October 1, 2015 by Urban Eriksson
Record Updated:
August 13, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
April 18, 2014
Other Collections:

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Record Link
AIP Format
U. Eriksson, Sci. Educ. 98 (3), 412–442 (2014), WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13750&DocID=4172).
U. Eriksson, Who Needs 3D When the Universe Is Flat?, Sci. Educ. 98 (3), 412–442 (2014), <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13750&DocID=4172>.
APA Format
Eriksson, U. (2014, April 18). Who Needs 3D When the Universe Is Flat?. Sci. Educ., 98(3), 412–442. Retrieved December 14, 2017, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13750&DocID=4172
Chicago Format
Eriksson, Urban. "Who Needs 3D When the Universe Is Flat?." Sci. Educ. 98, no. 3, (April 18, 2014): 412–442, https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13750&DocID=4172 (accessed 14 December 2017).
MLA Format
Eriksson, Urban. "Who Needs 3D When the Universe Is Flat?." Sci. Educ. 98.3 (2014): 412–442. 14 Dec. 2017 <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13750&DocID=4172>.
BibTeX Export Format
@article{ Author = "Urban Eriksson", Title = {Who Needs 3D When the Universe Is Flat?}, Journal = {Sci. Educ.}, Volume = {98}, Number = {3}, Pages = {412–442}, Month = {April}, Year = {2014} }
Refer Export Format

%A Urban Eriksson
%T Who Needs 3D When the Universe Is Flat?
%J Sci. Educ.
%V 98
%N 3
%D April 18, 2014
%P 412–442
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13750&DocID=4172
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Journal Article
%A Eriksson, Urban
%D April 18, 2014
%T Who Needs 3D When the Universe Is Flat?
%J Sci. Educ.
%V 98
%N 3
%P 412–442
%8 April 18, 2014
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13750&DocID=4172

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The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The AJP/PRST-PER presented is based on the AIP Style with the addition of journal article titles and conference proceeding article titles.

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