Off-campus South Dakota State University users: To download campus access theses, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your South Dakota State University ID and password.

Non-South Dakota State University users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this thesis through interlibrary loan.

Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Communication Studies and Theatre

First Advisor

John D. Ackerman


In this study, the researcher conducted a content analysis of undergraduate level introductory astronomy syllabi. The researcher focused only on introductory astronomy courses offered by physics or astronomy departments in the United States of America. The course syllabus is a document worthy of study for two primary reasons: 1) Its role as a contract between instructor and student and 2) its role as a medium for instructor to student interaction and immediacy. This study sought to illustrate the picture of undergraduate introductory astronomy courses in the United States of America. The researcher selected two independent variables: 1) institution type (public or private) and 2) instructor credentials. The study contained seven dependent variables for each syllabus: 1) the number of supplementary materials/activities, 2) total word count, 3) the number of explicitly stated course objectives, 4) identified course objectives, 5) degree of immediacy of instructor contact information present, 6) required textbook(s), and 7) the presence of a required laboratory component. Through independent samples ttests, Fisher's exact test, and descriptive statistics (when appropriate), the researcher found no statistically significant difference between institution type and any of the dependent variables. Descriptive statistics compare dependent variables and instructor credentials.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Astronomy -- Study and teaching (Higher)
Astronomy -- Curricula.
Content analysis (Communication)


Includes bibliographical references (pages 73-84)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


In Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Permitted