Astronomy Education Research: Developmental History of the Field and Summary of the Literature
Although astronomy topics have been included in K-12 education research for decades, astronomy education research as a field of discipline-based education research is relatively new. Driven by an interest in improving the general education, introductory course for non-science majors (“ASTRO 101”), astronomy education research is led by scholars with significant expertise in astronomy content. In this review, I outline the history of this field through looking at graduate degrees earned, faculty involved, and major milestones such as the creation of Astronomy Education Review. I also review the current status of the field, building upon a previous review by Bailey and Slater (2003). Six typologies are described: identifying students’ preconceptions; studying curricular and instructional effectiveness; assessment and instrumentation; relevant issues from high school; upper-division and graduate coursework; and investigations that go beyond knowledge. Within the description of each typology, I highlight common methodologies and results as well as point out limitations or weaknesses. I end the review with recommendations for the future of astronomy education research, including the need for more robust research design and analysis methods and possible research lines for longitudinal research, including learning progressions, and more in the affective, motivational, and related domains.