Major outcomes of an authentic astronomy research experience professional development program: An analysis of 8 years of data from a teacher research program

December 2018 • 2018PRPER..14b0102R

Authors • Rebull, L. M. • French, D. A. • Laurence, W. • Roberts, T. • Fitzgerald, M. T. • Gorjian, V. • Squires, G. K.

Abstract • The NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program (NITARP) provides a year-long authentic astronomy research project by partnering a research astronomer with small groups of educators. NITARP has worked with a total of 103 educators since 2005. In this paper, surveys are explored that were obtained from 74 different educators, at up to four waypoints during the course of 13 months, from the class of 2010 through the class of 2017; those surveys reveal how educator participants describe the major changes and outcomes in themselves fostered by NITARP. Three-quarters of the educators self-report some or major changes in their understanding of the nature of science. The program provides educators with experience collaborating with astronomers and other educators, and forges a strong link to the astronomical research community; the NITARP community of practice encourages and reinforces these linkages. During the experience, educators get comfortable with learning complex new concepts, with ∼40 % noting in their surveys that their approach to learning has changed. Educators are provided opportunities for professional growth; at least 12% have changed career paths substantially in part due to the program, and 14% report that the experience was "life changing." At least 60% express a desire to include richer, more authentic science activities in their classrooms. This work illuminates what benefits the program brings to its participants; the NITARP approach could be mirrored in similar professional development programs in other STEM subjects.


IPAC Authors


Luisa Rebull

Senior Research Scientist


Gordon Squires

Senior Scientist