Saturday, November 22, 2008

Are you on the astrolrner listserve?

Astronomy educators have an email community, the astrolrner listserve, with whom they can discuss the teaching and learning issues of Astronomy 101. If you are an astronomy teacher, you should join!

At the risk of repeating information that many readers may know about, I wanted to make quick post about the astrolrner listserve, the email discussion group for astronomy teachers, hosted by the Center for Astronomy Education. It is a moderated listserve (full disclosure: currently guest moderated by myself), so all messages are on-topic and members never receive spam or unrelated email by subscribing. Like most listserves, you can opt for individual emails and receive each post as they come in, or you can receive a daily digest of messages.

Astrolrner has over seven-hundred members, and it goes through flurries of activity every couple weeks or so. I have found it to be a valuable resource, because it allows me to see what other teachers are doing in their classrooms. Other members often request help with a particular assignment, generally finding that someone has developed a similar activity. The discussion can be quite lively, and, since it is moderated, they remain civil and on-topic.

If you are an astronomy teacher, then you should join astrolrner.

Ethics in Astro Ed Research

Brogt, et al, have completed a series of articles for Astronomy Education Review on ethical considerations while conducting astronomy education research. The articles help researchers become familiar with IRB processes, and the legalese behind researching students. The final article proposes a set of guidelines for our own field of astro ed.

Erik Brogt and his collaborators have written a series of three articles in Astronomy Education Review that not only detail the research ethics of studying students, but also present guidelines for the astronomy education research community. I think any researcher studying student learning of astronomy can benefit from reading these articles, regardless of whether or not there is intent to publish.

Regulations and Ethical Considerations for Astronomy Education Research, from July 2007, provides an overview of human subject research. The article applies this overview to astro ed research.

Regulations and Ethical Considerations for Astronomy Education Research II: Resources and Worked Examples, from January 2008, details the processes of an Institutional Research Board (IRB), and gives ethics considerations for several example astro ed research studies.

Regulations and Ethical Considerations for Astronomy Education Research III: A Suggested Code of Ethics, from November 2008, completes the series, giving a proposed set of ethical guidelines that astronomy education researchers should follow.

The guidelines are not dissimilar from other fields, but since our field is relatively young, I think having them specifically listed provides a good example for future research.