KU Leuven - Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences - Teacher training
All Sessions by An Steegen
Monday - September 16, 2019
Are teachers aware of students’ conceptions in astronomy? A qualitative analysis in Belgium
12:00 - 12:15
Research on astronomy education shows that secondary school students often have incorrect ideas about astronomical concepts. Teachers therefore have to implement strategies in their lessons in order to change and refine the students’ mental models. This research focuses on the level of teachers’ awareness of these student ideas and on the possible strategies they use in class. To gain insight in both, we used focus group interviews with secondary school teachers and semi-structured interviews with teacher managers.
Our findings suggest that the level of awareness about student difficulties and misconceptions varies considerably among the teachers and teacher managers. Some mental models, for example the distance model, are known by all teachers, whereas others are not known at all. Even though teachers acknowledge the importance of students’ preconceptions in general, they have difficulties using the students’ prior knowledge in an effective way in their teaching practice. According to the teachers, this is mainly due to a lack of time and to difficulties experienced with differentiation. Awareness on misconceptions and student difficulties might therefore grow by paying enough attention to it in preservice teacher programs and by organizing professional development activities.