A New Curriculum Development Model for Improving Undergraduate Students’ Data Literacy and Self-Efficacy in Online Astronomy Classrooms


  • Molly N. Simon Arizona State University
  • Edward E. Prather
  • Isaac S. Rosenthal
  • Michael Cassidy
  • James K. L. Hammerman
  • Laura Trouille




Self-efficacy, Citizen science, Data literacy, Curriculum development, Higher education


There is a critical need for research-based active learning instructional materials for the teaching and learning of STEM in online courses. Every year, hundreds of thousands of undergraduate non-science majors enroll in general education astronomy courses to fulfill their institution’s liberal arts requirements. When designing instructional materials for this population of learners, a central focus must be to help learners become more scientifically and data literate. As such, we developed a new, three-part, curricular model that was used to inform the creation of active-learning instructional materials designed for use in online courses. The instructional materials were designed to help introductory astronomy students engage meaningfully with science while simultaneously improving their data literacy self-efficacy (especially as it pertained to making evidence-based conclusions when presented with a variety of data representations).

We conducted a pilot study of these instructional materials at nine different colleges and universities to better understand whether students’ engagement with these materials lead to improved beliefs and self-efficacy. The results of our student survey analysis showed statistically significant changes on survey items that assessed students’ beliefs about science engagement, citizen science, and their data literacy skills. Additionally, we assessed whether faculty who implemented these materials were able to easily incorporate them into existing online astronomy courses. The instructor feedback emphasized that our curriculum development model did successfully inform the creation of easy-to-implement instructional materials, generating the potential for widespread dissemination and use at the undergraduate level.