Learn About Astronomy Education in a New Ebook

The American Astronomical Society recently launched a new partnership with IOP to produce a series of ebooks about astronomy and astrophysics. One of the newest books in this line, Astronomy Education, Volume 1: Evidence-based instruction for introductory courses, is edited by University of Arizona professors Chris Impey and Sanlyn Buxner, and it’s now available for download with an institutional IOP ebook subscription.

Why Should We Care About Astronomy Education?

Any astronomer can (and should!) argue the importance of sharing our understanding of the universe with students. But astronomy education has a particularly unique role in undergraduate education: it’s one of the most popular subjects for non-science majors, and it often represents the last formal exposure to science for these students.

It stands to reason, then, that a well-taught introductory astronomy course can be enormously impactful. But what does it mean to teach an intro astronomy class well?

Where Astronomy Education Research Comes In

AER ebook cover

Cover of the new AAS/IOP ebook edited by Drs. Chris Impey and Sanlyn Buxner, Astronomy Education, Volume 1.

To address questions about student learning, we turn to the field of education research. In this field, scientists methodically explore different teaching techniques and conduct studies to determine what strategies are most effective when trying to achieve specific outcomes — like improving test scores, increasing retention, or maximizing student engagement.

This education research has established many evidence-based instruction methods and practices that can be used to improve undergraduate education — and these strategies, specifically as applied to undergraduate introductory astronomy courses, are clearly outlined in the sections of Astronomy Education, Volume 1.

What Can You Learn from Astronomy Education, Volume 1?

Central to the strategies discussed in this ebook is the idea of learner-centered teaching — an alternative to a lecture-based instruction format that instead encourages students to be active participants in their education. The authors of Astronomy Education, Volume 1 provide insight into many different aspects of learner-centered teaching, like how to create student buy-in, how to develop appropriate course materials, and how to measure the impact your teaching strategies are having.

Dr. Impey and Dr. Buxner’s informative book provides information and resources for those who are teaching intro astronomy for the first time, as well as for those who want to add to their toolkits and improve their students’ learning. Chapters in the book include:

  • Learner-Centered Teaching in Astronomy
  • Effective Course Design
  • Lecture-Tutorials in Introductory Astronomy
  • Technology and Engagement in the University Classroom
  • Using Simulations Interactively in the Introductory Astronomy Classroom
  • Practical Considerations for Using a Planetarium for Astronomy Instruction
  • Authentic Research Experiences in Astronomy to Teach the Process of Science
  • Citizen Science in Astronomy Education
  • WorldWide Telescope in Education
  • Measuring Students’ Understanding in Astronomy with Research-based Assessment Tools
  • Everyone’s Universe: Teaching Astronomy in Community Colleges
  • Making Your Astronomy Class More Inclusive

More Information

Astronomy Education, Volume 1 ebook download: https://iopscience.iop.org/book/978-0-7503-1723-8

If you plan to be at AAS 235 in Honolulu, HI, come by to celebrate the publication of Astronomy Education, Volume 1 and to meet Dr. Impey, Dr. Buxner, and many of the book’s contributors in person! We’ll be at the AAS booth (#423) in the exhibit hall on Sunday, 5 January at 5:30 p.m. during the poster session.

Keep an eye out in 2020 for Astronomy Education, Volume 2: Best Practices for Online Learning Environments, edited by Chris Impey and Matthew Wenger.

To learn more about the AAS/IOP ebook partnership and current and upcoming titles, visit http://iopscience.iop.org/book/aas.


Chris Impey and Sanlyn Buxner 2019. Astronomy Education, Volume 1: Evidence based instruction for introductory courses. doi:10.1088/2514-3433/ab2b42