Monday, November 26, 2007

The Astronomy Education Research Charter

Astronomy education researchers met at a symposium in September and decided to write a charter for the astro ed research community, which will be published and shared with colleagues in academia, professional societies, funding agencies, etc.

Astronomy Education Review has a summary of the symposium on their site, with many good recommendations and thoughts. The charter is now on a wiki page hosted by the AAVSO, and can be edited publicly.

The charter is in its infancy. It has a small, but growing, recommendation section. A good introduction is given. Supplemental sections (introduction to the field of astro ed research, message to funding agencies, suggestions for future research projects) have not been fleshed out.

I recommend reading the charter and contributing to it. So far, only a few people seem to have accessed it and edited it.

I just added my own edit to the document, recommending that astronomy departments develop and offer courses in astronomy education: a course for graduate students (beyond TA training) and a course for pre-service teachers. Both populations need more than just an overview of introductory astronomy. They need specific pedagogical training in how students learn science and astronomy. They need to know what problems and misconceptions students have with astronomy. A pre-service secondary ed teacher taking a general intro course will not get this information. Therefore, I think the community should recommend that astronomy departments offer courses covering these ideas.

I plan to post further ideas for future research projects in astronomy education.

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