IAU OAE Releases Evaluation Toolkit for Astronomy Education Programmes

Published: 5th December 2023 11:00 (UTC)

The IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) is delighted to introduce the OAE Evaluation Framework & Toolkit to help astronomy educators — especially IAU National Astronomy Education Coordinator Teams — rigorously assess their programmes. With this open-access resource, the Office seeks to empower practitioners to showcase their achievements, exchange successful teaching and learning methodologies, and pinpoint areas for future focus.

The Toolkit has been designed to assist astronomy educators in systematically evaluating their educational programmes and developing evidence-based practices that can be applied across various contexts. Employing a ‘realist approach’ to evaluation, the resource delves into what works, for whom, and under what circumstances. This approach accounts for the intricate nuances and complexities of different environments, including cultural and practical components that vary across local geographies, and in diverse school settings.

The document guides users through evaluating their programmes from start to finish, through stages including: setting objectives; creating a logic model; deciding what type of data to collect, when to collect it, and from whom; ethical considerations; and which data collection tools to use.

The Toolkit component comprises a set of data collection tools designed to capture valuable information and feedback from the programme’s audience. Each tool is accompanied by a comprehensive description of how to conduct an evaluation with it. This description includes information on the required resources, such as equipment and space, guidance on implementation with the audience, suggested questions and prompts for participants, a summary of the tool’s advantages and disadvantages, and an overview of analysis procedures to use once the data has been collected.

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The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 12 000 active professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.

The IAU Office of Astronomy for Education is hosted at Haus der Astronomie (HdA), managed by the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy. The OAE’s mission is to support and coordinate astronomy education by astronomy researchers and educators, aimed at primary or secondary schools worldwide. HdA’s hosting the OAE was made possible through the support of the German foundations Klaus Tschira Stiftung and Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung.

The OAE is supported by a growing network of OAE Centers and OAE Nodes, collaborating to lead global projects developed within the network. The OAE Centers and Nodes are: the OAE Center China–Nanjing, hosted by the Beijing Planetarium (BJP); the OAE Center Cyprus, hosted by Cyprus Space Exploration Organization (CSEO); the OAE Center Egypt, hosted by the National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics (NRIAG); the OAE Center India, hosted by the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA); the OAE Center Italy, hosted by the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF); the OAE Node Republic of Korea, hosted by the Korean Astronomical Society (KAS); OAE Node France at CY Cergy Paris University hosted by CY Cergy Paris University; and the OAE Node Nepal, hosted by the Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO).

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Sophie Bartlett
OAE Main Office
OAE Astronomy Education Researcher

Gwen Sanderson
OAE Main Office
Organisational Assistant

Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Director of Communications