Preservice Teachers’ First Experiences Teaching Astronomy: Challenges in Designing and Implementing Inquiry-Based Astronomy Instruction for Elementary Students in After School Programs
This study examined preservice teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in designing astronomy investigations for children. Fifteen pairs of preservice teachers taught groups of children in after school programs once a week for five weeks; their assignment was to guide the children in a multi-day inquiry investigation about astronomy. Pre- and post-program content assessments and five lesson plans from each pair were analyzed using a mixed-methods approach to understand the successes and challenges in developing PCK by new teachers in this domain. Findings suggest that
while most preservice teachers were able to implement inquiry investigations in elementary astronomy topics, many also struggled to successfully connect a scientific
question to an explanation based on evidence. A correlation between the teachers’ content knowledge and the sophistication of their investigation plan was found.