Remote telescopes in education: Report of an Australian study

David McKinnon, Lena Danaia

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter

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Abstract

In 2004, the Australian Federal Department of Education, Science and Training funded a study into the impact of using remote telescopes in education in four educational jurisdictions: The Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. A total of 101 science teachers and 2033 students in grades 7 ' 9 provided pre-intervention data. Students were assessed on their astronomical knowledge, alternative conceptions held and ability to explain astronomical phenomena. They also provided information about the ways in which science is taught and their attitudes towards the subject. Teachers provided information about the ways in which they teach science. Both students (N=1463)1 and teachers (N=35), provided the same data after the intervention was completed. The return rate for students and teachers was 71% and 34% respectively. This represents the largest study undertaken involving the use of remote telescopes in education. The intervention comprised a set of educational materials developed at Charles Sturt University (CSU) and access to the CSU Remote Telescope housed at the Bathurst Campus, NSW. Outcomes showed that students had increased their astronomical knowledge significantly (F(1, 1173) =201.78, p < 0.001)2. There was a significant reduction in the students' alternative conceptions (F(1, 1173)=27.9, p < 0.001) and the students had acquired a significantly greater ability to explain astronomical phenomena (F(1, 1173)=25.66, p < 0.001). There was a significant concomitant increase in students' attitudes towards science in general and astronomy in particular. Discussion centres on the ways in which the use of remote telescopes can be harnessed to impact in positive ways the attitudes of students.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInnovation in Astronomy Education
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages233-242
Number of pages10
Edition1. Illustrated / 31
ISBN (Print)9780521880152
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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