The Center for Astronomy Education (CAE), directed by Ed Prather and Gina Brissenden (Univ. of Arizona), is devoted to improving teaching and learning in general education, college-level Earth, Astronomy and Space Science (Astro 101) by conducting fundamental research on student beliefs and reasoning difficulties related to astronomy, and instructor implementation difficulties related to teaching astronomy. We use the results of our research to inform the development of research-validated curriculum and assessment materials for use in the Astro 101 classroom. These research-validated curricula & assessment materials frame our professional development CAE Teaching Excellence Workshops for Earth, Astronomy and Space Science instructors. The goal of these professional development workshops is to increase the pedagogical content knowledge of Earth, Astronomy and Space Science instructors and improve implementation of these curricula and assessment materials.
To create sustainability and broaden the national impact and scope of our work, CAE, in collaboration with other leaders in astronomy education and research (Chris Impey, Steward Observatory; Kevin Lee, Univ. of Nebraska; and Doug Duncan Univ. of Colorado), developed the NSF funded Collaboration of Astronomy Teaching Scholars (CATS) Program. The primary goals of CATS are to:
- increase the number of Astro 101 instructors conducting fundamental research in astronomy education
- increase the amount of research-validated curriculum & assessment instruments available for use in Astro 101
- increase the number of instructors prepared to develop & conduct their own CAE Teaching Excellence Workshops
CAE is housed in the Astronomy Dept. at the Univ. of Arizona's Steward Observatory. CAE is funded through the generous contributions of the NASA JPL Exoplanet Exploration Public Engagement Program. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0715517, a CCLI Phase III Grant for the Collaboration of Astronomy Teaching Scholars (CATS). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.