Do Students Prefer Their Own Images to Professional Ones? Using Internet-Based Robotic Telescopes to Engage Non-Science Majors in Astronomical Observation
This study seeks to answer the question "To what extent do students prefer an astronomical image that they have taken themselves compared to an image of the same object taken by a professional telescope or spacecraft?" Recent work to develop authentic research experiences for astronomy courses assumes the answer is "yes". This assumption is based on "gut feelings" that students naturally prefer an image over which they can claim some level of ownership. To effectively move forward, this question should be more definitely studied. Using an interpretivist perspective, and pre-/post-activity surveys/interviews, this study involves undergraduate non-science majors enrolled in on-ground or online introductory astronomy courses using Internet-based robotic telescopes (MicroObservatory), and performing basic processing to stack the images into an RGB image. Student responses varied considerably depending on how the question was posed, motivating us to further explore our tacit assumptions about student affect.