I have looked around and haven't seen anything specifically addressing my question so please kindly point me in the right direction if I have overlooked anything.

What is the official policy for answers to astronomy and physics questions that include mention of, and/or results from, and experience in, astronomy and physics education? I have seen, and have experienced, some hostility toward educational issues here and I get the feeling that these matters are treated mostly as matters of personal opinion rather than as research-based problems.

I would like to know once and for all whether such answers are welcome. I have seen some patently incorrect answers given and marked as correct, but containing terminology errors and/or conceptual errors. If such answers are not welcome, that's fine. I just need to know.


1 Answer 1


Astronomy questions and answers are explicitly on topic. For a while there was a Astronomy.SE beta site and while it lived we did attempt to make a distinction between those question the definitely belonged on one site or the other (and necessarily recognized that some would be on topic on both). However, astro.se was ruled to be dying; its content was moved here and the site was closed.

The matter of how people react to personal experience answers is entirely up to the people casting the votes. That's the deal with crowd-sourced evaluation.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "physics education" in this context---are you talking about "physics education research" (PER) in a formal sense, about the experience gained in teaching physics, or about the usual progression of the education of a physicist (bachelor's degree, grad school, maybe a some postdoctoral work...)?

  • We don't have a explicit policy on PER questions at this time. Now, I attend quite a few talks and seminars given by these guys because I find the topic fascinating and would really like some guidance from them; however there are a fair number of questions in PER that I (speaking personally rather than as a moderator) would not classify as on-topic here (and many that I would classify as on-topic---it depends on how much physics there is in the matter).

  • Your personal experience as a teacher may be relevant, and you are welcome to answer on that basis. But see my point above about people being free to vote as they will.

  • We have a number of existing questions on the normal (and sometimes abnormal) education of physicists. Some have been well received and some have not. Many are closed for not meeting the usual guidelines with respect to having answers and not being polls or discussion topics. A few have been made community wiki as a kind of compromise position.

I have seen some patently incorrect answers given and marked as correct, but containing terminology errors and/or conceptual errors.

I trust that have downvoted these and left comments explaining how they are wrong? Oh, good. Because that is about all any one person can do about that.

Unless you want to bring them up on chat, which might be worth a try as this is usually a low traffic site; when we do get bursts of activity stuff can fall off the front page pretty quickly. Then some questions can be missed by those users who only check in occasionally.

  • $\begingroup$ By "astronomy and physics education" I meant "astronomy education research (AER) and physics education research (PER)." $\endgroup$
    – user11266
    Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 0:04

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