Misconceptions and Educational Research
Common misconceptions include:
- All stars are the same.
- Stars are much smaller than our Sun.
- The Sun is not a star.
- Stars appear white.
- Red giants are cooler on the outside and the inside, compared with other stars.
- All stars explode (go supernova) at the end of their "lives."
- Stars live forever.
- Stars are a part of our Solar System.
- Stars in a constellation are close to each other.
- If Jupiter were a little bit larger it would be a star.
- Stars are "burning."
- Stars are made of fire.
- Stars are pointy-shaped.
- Stars can fall.
Agan, L., 2004, Stellar Ideas: Exploring Students' Understanding of Stars, Astronomy Education Review,Issue 1, Volume 3:77-97.
In this study, high school and first-year undergraduate students were asked about their understanding of stars. This study uses semistructured interviews to investigate students' ideas about the relationship between the Sun and stars, the nature of stars (What is a star?), and the distances between stars. The results indicate that astronomy instruction at the high school level can be effective at developing students' knowledge about stars in a short period of time.