Assessment of the Perceptions of Junior High School Science Teachers Regarding Astronomy in Junior High Science Education
Some educators claim that astronomy is one of the most important and interesting of ail science subjects. Furthermore, astronomy is very popular with the general public, and many people a¡e fascinated by astronomical concepts. However, astronomy is only marginally included in the junior high school science curriculum in Manitoba. Such a lack of emphasis reinforces the apparent attitude of the educational community that astronomy is an unimportant subject, whereas it can be argued otherwise.
Scientific literacy in adults has been determined to be much lower than desired, and ways to raise the level of science literacy are being sought. An improvement of the quality or an inc¡ease on the amount of astronomy included in the present science curriculum may generate more interest in science, and this, in turn, may help to raise the level of scientific literary.
A survey was developed and administered to a randomly-selected sample of junior high school science teachers in Manitoba. Data from the survey were tabulated, coded and entered into a database for analyses. A cross-tabulation program was used to search fo¡ co¡¡elations between variables. The results of the study show that while junior high school science teachers tend to have an interest in astronomy, believe that astronomy is important in an educational context, and believe that their students are interested in astronomy, teachers are reluctant to increase the amount of astronomy in the curriculum. This reluctance may be due to a number of factors; it is recommended that further studies be done to determine what variables are influencing teachers' attitudes towards curriculum change in this field. It is further recommended that teacher education programs in astronomy be expanded, and that teachers should be made more aware of the importance of astronomy in education, the availability of resources, and the ways in which astronomy can be incorporated into the - curriculum.