Teaching and learning in astronomy education – a spiral approach to reading the sky

Urban Eriksson

Forskningsoutput: KonferensbidragSammanfattning


Teaching and learning astronomy is known to be both exciting and challenging. However, learning astronomy at university level is a demanding task for many students. The learning pro-cess involves not only disciplinary knowledge, but also the ability to discern affordances from disciplinary specific representations used within the astronomy discourse, which we call discipli-nary discernment (Eriksson, Linder, Airey, & Redfors, 2014a) and ability to think spatially, which we refer to as extrapolating three-dimensionality from a two dimensional input (Eriksson, Linder, Airey, & Redfors, 2014b). Disciplinary knowledge involves all the knowledge that con-stitutes the discipline, disciplinary discernment involves discernment of the affordances of disci-plinary-specific representations, and extrapolating three-dimensionality involves the ability to visualize in ones mind how a three-dimensional astronomical object may look from a two-dimensional input (image or simulation). In this paper we argue that these abilities are inter-twined and to learn astronomy at any level demands becoming fluent in all three abilities. A framework is presented for how these abilities can be described and combined as a new and in-novative way to frame teaching and learning in astronomy at university level for optimizing the learning outcome of students - what we refer to as developing the ability of Reading the Sky (Eriksson, 2014). We conclude that this is a vital competency needed for learning astronomy and suggest strategies for how to implement this to improve astronomy education.


Eriksson, Urban. (2014). Reading the Sky - From Starspots to Spotting Stars. (Doctor of Philosophy), Uppsala University, Uppsala. Retrieved from http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-234636  

Eriksson, Urban, Linder, Cedric, Airey, John, & Redfors, Andreas. (2014a). Introducing the Anatomy of Disciplinary Discernment - An example for Astronomy. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 2(3), 167-182. 

Eriksson, Urban, Linder, Cedric, Airey, John, & Redfors, Andreas. (2014b). Who needs 3D when the Universe is flat? Science Education, 98(3), 31. 

StatusPublicerad - 2015
EvenemangAstronomdagarna 2015 -
Varaktighet: 1980-jan-01 → …


KonferensAstronomdagarna 2015
Period80-01-01 → …

Nationell ämneskategori

  • Astronomi, astrofysik och kosmologi (10305)
  • Didaktik (50302)


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