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Published July 2018 | Published + Accepted Version
Journal Article Open

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


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.

Additional Information

© 2018 the Author(s). Published by the American Physical Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the published article's title, journal citation, and DOI. (Received 15 September 2017; published 5 July 2018) Thank you to all 103 NITARP and Spitzer educators for your tireless devotion to this program. Support for this program was provided in part by NASA/ADAP (Astrophysics Data Analysis Program) funds. Thank you Doug Hudgins. Thanks to Martha Kirouac and Tim Spuck for useful suggestions on early drafts.

Attached Files

Published - PhysRevPhysEducRes.14.020102.pdf

Accepted Version - 1805.01387


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October 18, 2023