AAS 195th Meeting, January 2000
Session 101. Astronomy Education
Oral, Friday, January 14, 2000, 2:00-3:30pm, Regency V

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[101.01] Self-Directed Professional Development for Middle-School Astronomy Teachers

J.R. Percy, N. Chandra, M. Kalchman, E. Woodruff (U. Toronto)

The goal of our project is to prepare teachers to deliver a portion of the school science curriculum - astronomy - that is seldom part of their knowledge base. Research has shown that students have deep-seated misconceptions about astronomy and we believe these same misconceptions are likely to be held by elementary school teachers too. Employing a modified instrument originally developed and validated by P.M. Sadler to identify astronomy misconceptions, we tested 103 elementary school teacher candidates enrolled in the OISE/University of Toronto teacher certification program. Consistent with Sadler's and others' findings, we found a variety of misconceptions which were relevant to the school science curriculum. Statistical analyses suggest these misconceptions may centre around larger concepts such as gravity, the nature of light, and 3D relationships. Our remediation efforts involved access to astronomy related web-sites and providing teacher candidates with hands-on workshop activities to confront their misconceptions. Post unit follow-up interviews suggest these misconceptions are not easily changed. This presentation will describe our plans to establish a web-site where teacher candidates can self assess, engage in professional dialogue with peers and experts, find resources, and learn about new pedagogic strategies.

Supported by the Ministry of Education, Ontario.

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