Exploring the Impact of Robotic Telescope-Based Observing Experiences on Students’ Learning

Tim Spuck
Director of Education & Public Engagement
Associated Universities Inc.

Students – From Telescope Access to Research: Remote telescope access has recently grown to be a large part of many formal and informal science education experiences globally. Through the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Sky Partners program and the Skynet Telescope Network education programs, thousands of students have easy access to research-grade telescopes. Through the use of these telescopes students gain a sense of connection and ownership of their astronomy projects. Additionally, they quickly increase their self-efficacy around the use of these scientific instruments. The results of a newly published astronomy self-efficacy survey will be provided here, along with details from interviews of students in astronomy research programs, and from observations of astronomy labs in which students use their own data collected on remote telescopes to study the fundamental concepts of introductory astronomy. For many students, their first access to these telescopes and to basic research projects is a jumping off point leading to longer-term involvement in astronomy and research and integration into the Community-of-Practice around the use of small telescopes for astronomical research.


Rachel Freed, UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC; Tiffany Stone Wolbrecht, AUI, Washington, D.C.