To Teach Or Not To Teach Astronomy, That Is The Question: Results Of A Survey Of Québec’s Elementary Teachers

Main Article Content

Pierre Chastenay

Keywords

Astronomy Education; Teacher Education; Elementary

Abstract

To determine the extent of astronomy teaching in Quebec’s schools, we conducted an online survey of 500 Québec’s elementary (K-6) teachers between January and March 2015. With a 35-items questionnaire, we wanted to find out how these elementary teachers teach astronomy (or not) to their classrooms, what is their background in Science & Technology (S&T), what pre-service education they received, the reasons why they teach astronomy or not to their students, the resources and materials they have at their disposal, their perception of the effectiveness of pre- and in-service training they received, and their perceived needs for in-service training. Results show that the majority of teachers surveyed didn’t study science beyond high school and have had no experience in S&T employment before becoming a teacher. We also found that only half of the teachers surveyed actually teach astronomy to their class, mostly by using reading and writing material, and that 39% of “Astronomy teachers” in our sample teach astronomy to their class between 6 and 10 hours per year. Major hurdles to astronomy teaching perceived by the teachers in our survey are a lack of experience and training in astronomy, a lack of resources and equipment, inadequate classroom arrangement, and their own, self-perceived incompetence in astronomy. Pre-service education in astronomy, in science and in science teaching is also considered mainly unsatisfactory, or non-existent in the case of astronomy; in-service training in astronomy is mainly composed of conversations with colleagues. Most respondents thus consider in-service training in astronomy to be inefficient or inexistent.

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