Using Stories To Assess College Students’ Ideas About Astronomy

Evaluation and Astronomy Education Research
5th Shaw-IAU Workshop
Wednesday Nov. 29, 2023
UTC: 8:35 p.m. - 8:45 p.m.
Friday Dec. 1, 2023
UTC: 10:35 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

We investigated how college education majors consider ‘who does astronomy’ and ‘what counts as doing astronomy’ during an introductory astronomy course. As a final project, students wrote children’s storybooks. Thematic analysis of students’ storybooks suggests that many students recognize the importance of showing that astronomy is done by people of color, women, and children. Many students also demonstrated the dynamic nature of science through characters engaged in the practices of science. However, we also noted limitations in how some students portrayed astronomy, such as focusing on astronomy as learning facts and limiting the protagonist’s agency. The storybook project helped us understand how students can apply an anti-deficit perspective through the creation of classroom media.

About Julia Plummer

Dr. Julia Plummer, Professor of Science Education at the Pennsylvania State University, spent more than a decade teaching children and adults in planetariums and other informal settings and continues to teach introductory astronomy and science methods for elementary teachers. Her research focuses on the design of learning environments that support children's spatial thinking and science practices, primarily in the domain of astronomy. She also investigates how storybook narratives can be used to support science learning. Her research includes both formal environments, such as classrooms, and informal environments, such as planetariums and museums.