Characteristics of effective astronomer-educator partnerships in formal urban middle school science classrooms
[This paper is part of the Focused Collection on Astronomy Education Research.] This qualitative study investigates astronomers’ and urban public middle school teachers’ beliefs about the characteristics of effective outreach partnerships in formal science classroom settings. Twelve astronomers and twelve science teachers participating in Baltimore Project ASTRO, a NSF grant-funded astronomer-educator partnership outreach program, were interviewed after participation using semistructured, in-depth interview techniques. Constant comparative analysis was used to analyze the interview transcripts. The findings suggest that astronomers and urban public middle school teachers believe that the characteristics of effective outreach partnerships center on the following three themes: partnership collaboration, astronomer and teacher characteristics, and astronomer and teacher dispositions. Regarding partnership collaboration, astronomers and teachers believed that establishing a relationship; maintaining communication; planning, preparing, and facilitating lessons collaboratively; and following up on lessons taught and modifying lessons for future implementation were vital characteristics for effective astronomer-educator partnerships. Concerning astronomer and teacher characteristics, effective astronomer partners were described as being willing to volunteer their time, willing to provide resources, and willing to purchase supplies. Effective educator partners were characterized as being responsible for managing the classroom and students, differentiating lessons and activities, and administering pre- and postastronomy assessments to students before and after their astronomer partner visits. In reference to astronomer and teacher dispositions, effective astronomers were prompt, able to relate to kids, exited, passionate about what they do, knowledgeable, tolerant, and easy going. Effective teachers were committed, motivated to have a volunteer astronomer in their classroom, passionate about teaching and about their students, and knowledgeable about the astronomy curriculum. The findings of this study help to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of effective astronomer-educator partnerships in formal urban middle school science classrooms and help to provide essential guidance to all who are interested in designing and facilitating such science educational outreach programming.
Miranda, R. J., Scott, J. E., & Schaefer, K. G. (2018). Characteristics of effective astronomer-educator partnerships in formal urban middle school science classrooms. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 14(1), 010147. https://doi.org/10.1103/Phys
Type of Publication
Miranda, Rommel J. | Scott, Jennifer E. | Schaefer, Karen G.
Towson University, Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences
Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research
American Physical Society
Nation(s) of Study
United States of America