Pre-service Teachers’ Mental Models of Basic Astronomy Concepts
The aim of the present study is to determine pre-service teachers’ mental models related to basic astronomy concepts. The study was conducted using a survey method with 293 pre-service teachers from 4 different departments; physics education, science education, primary teacher education and early childhood education. An achievement test with open-ended questions was developed for the study, and the data obtained with this tool were analysed in two stages. In the first stage, pre-service teachers’ level of understanding of basic astronomy concepts was determined and in the second stage, their mental models were defined based on these levels of understanding. It was determined that the pre-service teachers had 9 different mental models; ideal, basic, conceptual, memorizing, selective, definitional, concrete, relational and inappropriate. The analysis of data revealed that none of the pre-service teachers had an ideal model for the astronomy concepts in question, and the most common model was the inappropriate model. In addition, the results of this study put forward that pre-service teachers from different branches had similar mental models.