The Development and Assessment of a Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) for Online Astronomy Majors
13:45 - 14:00
Co-authors: Heather B. Hewitt, Chris Mead, Skylar Grayson, Grace Haverstock-Beall
There has been a tremendous shift towards online learning over the past two decades. At the crux of this shift is the desire to make higher education more accessible. In the summer of 2020, Arizona State University introduced the first online bachelor’s degree program in Astronomical and Planetary Sciences (hereafter, the APS program) in the United States. The APS program, as it currently stands, does not adequately prepare students for advanced degrees in astrophysics or planetary science. As the APS program has progressed, many students have expressed interest in pursuing graduate degrees in related fields. By broadening access to course-based research experiences through online CUREs, rather than emphasizing individual research experiences exclusively, the research community will be more representative of our nation’s diverse population of learners. To this end, we have developed and are currently assessing one of the first fully online CUREs for astronomy majors. Our CURE utilizes the citizen science project, Exoplanet Watch, as the backbone of the course. Students in the course work collaboratively to update the orbital parameters of a Hot Jupiter exoplanet observed using a network of small, ground-based, robotic telescopes. A preliminary analysis of survey responses from students enrolled in the Fall 2022 pilot offering of the course indicated that students who completed our CURE reported improved research self-efficacy, sense of belonging, and increased exoplanet content knowledge.