Shamin Padalkar (Graduated 2011)

Topic of Research: Visuospatial Reasoning in Astronomy Education
Thesis Adviser: Prof. Jayashree Ramadas


I have been working as a research scholar since Aug. 2004 in the area of science education. My area of interest is visuospatial reasoning in astronomy education. Explanation of day to day phenomena is a matter of basic scientific literacy and a part of elementary astronomy. Also, it has been seen that students as well as adults have problems in understanding the heliocentric model and explaining phenomena on the basis of that model. This kind of reasoning is called Òmodel based reasoningÓ and requires spatial abilities such as mental rotation and perspective taking.
Astronomy education becomes a matter of concern because of  its connection to astrology. Also India, like many other old cultures, has a rich body of indigenous knowledge of astronomy (eg. calendars) which remains unconnected to school science.
We work with middle school students from educationally disadvantaged background (rural, tribal and urban children from slum area).We are trying to study their understanding of astronomy and develop a methodology which will enable students to explain the daily phenomena correctly, with the help of models, gestures and diagrams.


Padalkar, S., & Hegarty, M. (2014, August 11). Models as Feedback: Developing Representational Competence in Chemistry. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance

online publication. [PDF]

Padalkar, S. & Hegarty, M. (2013). Undergraduate Students' Understanding About Representations in Chemistry. In Nagarjuna, G., Jamakhandi, A. and Sam, E. M. (Eds.) Proceedings of epiSTEME-5 Conference, Mumbai, India, Jan 7-11, 2013, pp. 288-294. [epiSTEME Link]

Padalkar, S. & Hegarty, M. (2012).  Improving Representational Competence in Chemistry with Model-Based Feedback. Proceedings of CogSci2012: 34th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. [PDF

Padalkar, S. and Ramadas, J. (2011). Designed and spontaneous gestures in elementary astronomy education, International Journal of Science Education, 33(12), pp. 1703-1739. [IJSE Link]

Padalkar, S. & Ramadas, J. (2011). Using diagrams as an effective pedagogic tool in elementary astronomy. In Chunawala, S. and Kharatmal, M. (Eds.) Proceedings of epiSTEME-4 Conference, Mumbai, India, Jan 5-9, 2011, pp. 159-164. [epiSTEME Link]

Subramaniam, K. and Padalkar, S. (2009). Visualisation and Reasoning in Explaining the Phases of the Moon. International Journal of Science Education, 31 (3), 395-417.[PDF]

Padalkar, S. and Ramadas, J. (2009). An Indigenous Approach to Elementary Astronomy - How Cognitive Research can Help. In Subramaniam, K., & Mazumdar, A. (Eds.), Proceedings of Conference epiSTEME-3, Mumbai, India, 5-9 Jan 2009, 69-75. [PDF]

Padalkar, S. and Ramadas, J. (2008). Modeling the Round Earth through Diagrams. Astronomy Education Review, 6 (2), 54-74 [PDF]

Padalkar, S. and Ramadas, J. (2008) Indian students’ understanding of astronomy. In Electronic Proceedings of the Conference of Asian Science Education (CASE 2008), Kaohsiung, Taiwan, February 2008.

Padalkar, S. and Subramaniam, K. (2007). Reasoning Processes Underlying the Explanation of the Phases of the Moon. In Natarajan, C., & Choksi, B. (Eds.), Proceedings of Conference epiSTEME-2, Mumbai, India, Feb 2007, 121-125.[PDF]


Project Moon In The Sky (MITS): I, along with Dr. K. Subramaniam, worked on misconceptions and explanations about phases of the moon. We worked with participants pursuing a Master in Design (already holding a Bachelors degree in Architecture) and with those with a Masters degree in Physics pursuing a career in physics or physics education research. We identified the different strategies used by these subjects and found that the choice and efficiency of a strategy depends upon the participantÕs background. In particular, we found that architects have developed spatial skills which enable them to solve the given problem faster and more accurately than Physics students do.

Summer School Projects with School Students: Inter University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA, Pune) conducts a summer school for middle school students. I helped one such group of five students to work out their project on stellar evolution. The students were bright but from low socioeconomic backgrounds with Marathi (local language) as the school medium of instruction in contrast to other students from privileged backgrounds and English as their school medium of instruction.
I am interested in various people's science movements and was connected with local and National organizations working in the field of scientific literacy, environmentalist groups, experimental schools etc. (Bharat Gyan Vigyan Parishad, Narmada Bachao Andolan, National Alliance of People's Movements,Vidnyan Prabodhini, Nisarg-Mitra, Srijan Anand Vidyalay.)
I take part in National Science Day activities in which we set up a solar laboratory  which includes making a solar dial, measuring diameter of the sun and taking image of the sun on paper through telescope. I have conducted local camps for star gazing through the unaided eye as well as with telescopes.




Physics Communication Workshop Workshop for collage students to develop communication skills to communicate Physics to school students, teachers and community 9 to 13 Oct. 2006

Shikshak Shibir Orientation camp for primary teachers who use Small Science TextBooks published by HBCSE 4 to 6 Jan. 2006


Second European Cognitive Science Conference (EuroCogSci07) Delphi, Greece 23 to 25 May 2007

Conference epiSTEME-2 Mumbai, India 12 to 15 Feb 2007

Workshop on Diagrams By Prof. Barbara Tversky from Department of Psychology, Stanford University, USA. Mumbai, India 11 and 17th Feb. 2007

Workshop on Understanding Causality and explanation by Prof. Stathis Psillos from Department of History & Philosophy of Science, University of Athens, Greece. Mumbai, India 5 to 9 Feb 2007

Workshop How to Teach Not to Tell by Prof. Eleanor Duckworth Mumbai, India 1st Jan. 2006

Workshop for Pre Primary Teachers (Conducted by Shivaji University and Buniyadi Shikshan Kendra) Kolhapur, India 1and 2nd Oct. 2005

International Conference on Physics Education Dehli, India 21 to 26 Aug. 2005

Conference epiSTEME-1 Panjim, Goa, India 13 to 17 Dec. 2004

Workshop on History of Science by Prof. Michael Matthews from School of Education, Australia. Mumbai, India Dec. 2004

Summer School on Astronomy Conducted by IUCAA Pune, India May 2002


Exam Board / University  Year of Passing Marks (%)
SSC Maharashtra Board 1996 80
HSSC Maharashtra Board 1998 74
B.Sc.(Physics) Shivaji University 2001 73
M.Sc. (Physics) Department of Physics Pune University 2004 56


Reading Marathi poems and literature.
Watching off beat / classic movies
Working with and watching Experimental theater.
Dancing: I learned Indian classical dance Kathak for several years.
I am interested in fine arts and appreciate handicraft.

Thesis advisor: