Sunday, November 25, 2007

Teaching Astronomy Blog: Introduction

This blog exists to post about and discuss current research and ideas in science education, particularly as they apply to astronomy and physics.  My name is Paul Robinson and I am a community college teacher.  My primary instructional charge (and interest) is Introductory Astronomy, so that will be the focus of this blog.  However, I have deep interests in physics and general science education, as well as the teaching of critical and skeptical thinking, so these topics will probably be discussed as well.

I enjoy hunting for teaching resources and reading educational research.  I have had more than one friend ask me for a list of resources for beginning astronomy/physics teachers, and I have been told by them more than once that I should post my collected resources on the web.  Part of this blog will be to generate such collections, so that beginning teachers (who find this blog) will not have to spend valuable time locating resources.

I will attempt to post on a regular basis, commenting on recent articles from various journals, giving citations, and perhaps discussing the implications of research results.  

What this blog will NOT contain is postings of current events in astronomy, or links to popular media articles on astronomy.  There are many good blogs that already do this.  If a popular media article discusses astronomy/physics education, then I may post about it.

Readers are encouraged to send me links and citations to relevant resources and books.  Mail should be addressed to:  robinson DOT spam AT gmail DOT com

I have my own points of view on teaching and education, many of which will manifest in this blog.  Some of these views are:  
  • It is possible for people to become better teachers, through learning of their own.
  • Traditional lecturing is the least effective way to encourage students to learn science (and pretty much anything else).  Higher learning gains are encouraged through an active-learning curriculum. (see Prather, et al 2004, in Astronomy Education Review)
  • The fact that you have expertise in astronomy or physics doesn't mean that you can teach it effectively.  In fact, without classroom training, your expertise will probably hinder your effectiveness as a teacher. (see Experts and Teaching, in How People Learn by the National Research Council)
  • Good teaching requires:  (1) content knowledge, which allows a teacher to access the concept and mechanics of field.  (2) pedagogical knowledge, which gives a teacher insight into the common difficulties and misconceptions students have with a field.  (3)  assessment knowledge, which allows a teacher to design and interpret appropriate tests of student understanding. (see chapter 7 of How People Learn)
That's enough of an introduction.  Come back regularly, link to the blog, and tell your teacher-friends about it. :-)


Rebecca said...

I really appreciate this, it is good to have links to all this material in one place.

Kristin said...

Thanks for creating this blog! I'll be checking it often, both for teaching ideas and for education research ideas.

P.E. Robinson said...

Kristin and Rebecca, thanks for the kind words!

Mark said...

Hey from ZA! I have only gotten to your blog a few days ago and have added it to my bookmarks. I'm an ex-physics teacher interested in Astronomy big time. I have now ventured into the world of e-learning but the love for Physics and Astronomy remains.