The Effect of Astronomy Teaching Experience on the Astronomy Interest and Conceptions of Elementary School Teachers
The primary objective of this study was to determine what effect astronomy teaching experience has on the astronomy concepts of elementary school teachers by comparing their conceptions to those held by cohort teachers who had not taught astronomy. In addition, this investigation sought to determine (1) whether teacher interest in astronomy increased as a result of instruction, (2) if interest increased, what kind of relationship exists between interest gains and conceptual change, (3) what astronomy misconceptions are held by teachers who teach astronomy, and (4) how do these misconceptions compare to those held by elementary teachers who do not teach astronomy.
A static group comparison design was used to examine the astronomy concepts held by two groups of elementary school teachers in a suburb of Boston, MA. After controlling for prior interest in astronomy and previous astronomy teaching experience, the experimental group consisted of 12 second grade teachers who were using an extensive, activity-based astronomy unit designed to address student misconceptions. The unit, which typically took over ten weeks to complete and was described by a 110 page teacher's guide, was introduced into the second grade science curriculum in 1987. The control group consisted of 10 first, second and third grade teachers who were not required to teach astronomy and had not done so in the past. Both groups completed a demographic questionnaire, an astronomy interest assessment, and a multiple choice astronomy concepts survey.
Although teachers who taught the astronomy unit showed significant gains in their astronomy interest compared to the controls, teachers in the experimental group did not have higher astronomy concept scores. Furthermore, there were no significant differences between the types of astronomy misconceptions held by the two groups. The results of this study suggest that while extensive, "hands-on," astronomy teaching experience may increase the astronomy interest of elementary school teachers, this experience does not appear to affect their astronomy conceptions.
Shore, L. S. (1991). The effect of astronomy teaching experience on the astronomy interest and conceptions of elementary school teachers. PhD. Dissertation. Boston University, MA, USA
Type of Publication
Shore, Linda S.
Number of Pages
Nation(s) of Study
United States of America