Robotic v. Simulated v. “The Real Thing”
Student and Faculty Perceptions on Observing
Astronomy educators have a variety of motivations for including – or not including – some nature of observing in their curricula. Observing components can range from very simple exercises of merely looking at the sky to much richer, more complex projects that give students a complete feel for the process of doing science through engaging in professional astronomy. Moreover, these observations can be performed in person or virtually, with either remote/robotic telescopes or simulators, thus allowing educators greater freedom to incorporate observing in any kind of learning environment. There is a disconnect, however, between the learning goals that astronomy educators have and their students’ perception that these goals have been met. To explore this disconnect, we have surveyed both astronomy educators and university students to compare how well the student experience of these observations matches the instructor’s objectives and perception of the observing component. We discuss the results of these surveys, and provide highlights from student interviews.