Document Type

Journal Article


The Clute Institute


School of Education




Slater, S. J., Tatge, C. B., Bretones, P. S., Slater, T. F., Schleigh, S. P., McKinnon, D., & Heyer, I. (2016). iSTAR First light: Characterizing astronomy education research dissertations in the iSTAR database. Journal of Astronomy and Earth Sciences Education, 3(2), 125-140.


There is widespread interest among discipline-based science education researchers to situate their research in the existing scholarly literature base. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to conducting a thorough literature review are unduly hindered in astronomy education research as the venues in which scholarship is reported are fragmented and widely dispersed across journals of varying disciplines. The international STudies of Astronomy education Research (iSTAR) online repository is the result of a concerted international community effort to collect and categorize existing research from peer-reviewed journal articles, dissertations/theses, and grey literature. In a “first light” survey of over 300 U.S. dissertations, we find: (i) work in AER dates back to 1923; (ii) the number of extant dissertations is far greater than anticipated; (iii) research methods definitions have evolved; and (iv) most work has studied participants’ broad knowledge rather than specific learning targets. The surprisingly wide breadth of rarely cited research motivates us to collect more AER from across international and cross-disciplinary sources.



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