Test of Astronomy Standards (TOAST)

Developed by Stephanie J. Slater

Purpose To measure students’ general astronomy content knowledge across the entire first-semester introductory course.
Format Multiple-choice
Duration 30 min
Focus Astronomy Content knowledge (gravity, electromagnetic radiation, fusion and formation of heavy elements, evolution of the universe, star and stellar evolution, evolution and structure of the solar system, seasons, scale, yearly patterns, daily patterns, moon phases)
Level Intro college
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Sample questions from the TOAST:

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S. Slater, The Development And Validation Of The Test Of Astronomy STandards (TOAST), J. Astro. Earth. Sci. Educ. 1 (1), 22 (2014).
Silver Validation
This is the second highest level of research validation, corresponding to at least 5 of the validation categories below.

Research Validation Summary

Based on Research Into:

  • Student thinking

Studied Using:

  • Student interviews
  • Expert review
  • Appropriate statistical analysis

Research Conducted:

  • At multiple institutions
  • By multiple research groups
  • Peer-reviewed publication

The astronomy concepts covered on the TOAST were derived from three expert position statements about the core ideas in astronomy and a later review by 28 experts. The initial TOAST questions followed this set of scientific content criteria and best practices for test question construction. Existing questions were taken from other assessments when possible, and four new questions were written based on research into student thinking and the authors experience with teaching the content. The readability of the TOAST questions was tested and found to be appropriate. The test then underwent expert review and was revised. Next, the experts participated in think-aloud interviews as they answered test questions to check the scientific content. The TOAST was given to over 1000 non-science majors at five institutions and statistical analysis of reliability, difficulty and discrimination were conducted and reasonable values found. Responses were also compared to published research on student ideas about relevant topics to ensure the TOAST questions and responses were supported by relevant theory. The TOAST has been used with over 2000 students and results published in three peer-reviewed articles.


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Typical Results

Typical scores on the TOAST from Slater 2014.

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The final version of the TOAST available here, vf, was released in 2008.