TEACHER PERCEPTIONS OF FACTORS THAT AFFECT TEACHING SPACE SCIENCE IN TEXAS
Kitmacher, Gary H. 1955-
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The purpose of this study was to describe the characteristics of teachers teaching space science associated subjects in Texas public schools, identify their perceived ability to teach these subjects, and to identify any impediments or enhancements to their ability to teach the subjects. The study was conducted through a mixed method design that included quantitative data from a survey and qualitative information obtained through a survey, interviews and classroom visitations. The survey methodology used primarily electronic delivery to 316 teachers, professors, and administrators from at least 106 Texas public school districts across the state. The results provided insights into the current condition of Texas space science education and challenges faced by the teachers in the areas of curriculum definition, textbook availability, access to subject matter expertise, technology use, and teacher training. Many of the teachers reported common processes and encountered common challenges. Differences among the teachers were based on grade levels and subjects taught, years of experience, location, and information accessibility. Many participants in this study felt they were moderately knowledgeable and could provide adequate instruction in the space sciences fields, but that their instruction could be enhanced through access to more and better subject content information, technology, resources, and training. There were several key findings. Curricula were not perceived to be uniformly defined. While space science content was taught in most K-8 grades, teachers felt there was little continuity from one grade to the next. And, while an abundance of technical content was available on the internet, teachers said that the lack of organization for ease of use and the apparent difficulty in finding suitable classroom activities that promote critical thinking skills requires attention. The development of required instructional resources identified in this study would be a step towards establishing a comprehensive curriculum for space science.
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