20140820

Online reading assignment: syllabus quiz, flipped classroom

Physics 205A, fall semester 2014
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Students have a bi-weekly online reading assignment (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com), where they answer questions based on reading their textbook, material covered in previous lectures, opinion questions, and/or asking (anonymous) questions or making (anonymous) comments. Full credit is given for completing the online reading assignment before next week's lecture, regardless if whether their answers are correct/incorrect. Selected results/questions/comments are addressed by the instructor at the start of the following lecture.

The following questions were asked on reading textbook chapters on unit conversions and dimensional analysis, reading through the course syllabus, and watching two video presentations on the flipped class: "What Is the Flipped Class?" and "How the Flipped Classroom Works."



Selected/edited responses are given below.

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"I have never seen units with negative exponents. Is m-1 the same as 1/m?" (Yup.)

"Why are there asterisks next to some of the questions on this survey?" (Those are the mandatory questions that must be answered (such as your name) in order to submit your assignment.)

"If we are doing the flipped class style of learning how will we be receiving 'lecture' material? Will it be, as the videos describe, online with video lectures?" (All slides for each lecture will be posted online--not as videos--but with the full narration text that would be included in a video.)

"Are we going to need to be able to memorize all the different conversions before our first test or are we allowed a conversion sheet? Are we supposed to memorize the metric prefixes?" (No--all conversion factors will be given to you; and yes, you do need to memorize all metric prefixes from Giga- (109) to nano- (10-9).)

"So what's the difference between the physics class at UC-Davis and the one you are teaching here at Cuesta? Are we getting the same education as the students at UC-Davis?" (Yes.)

"I chose to go to UC-Davis after graduating high school and was really excited until I had my first chemistry class with 500 other students. I left after two quarters and have had some of my favorite classes/teachers at community colleges." (Word.)

"Seriously, why do we use this textbook? I feel like it sucks (readability, organization), and there are a ton of physics textbooks out there." (Actually, all physics textbooks suck. Well, maybe some more than others.)

"I think you should have actually rapped Iggie's line about the lesson in physics in the song 'Fancy,' in front of the whole class.

"I probably won't call you P-dog, but I'll try my best." (Try harder.)

20140721

Collision type flowchart

"Collision type flowchart"
http://flic.kr/p/o8oHFG
Originally uploaded by Waifer X

Flowchart by Cuesta College Physical Sciences Division instructor Dr. Patrick M. Len.

20140705

Significant figures flowchart

"Significant figures flowchart"
http://flic.kr/p/ofhtvx
Originally uploaded by Waifer X

Flowchart by Cuesta College Physical Sciences Division instructor Dr. Patrick M. Len.

20140702

Physics quiz question: units of (mass-specific) heat capacity

Physics 205A Quiz 1, spring semester 2009
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e, Comprehensive Problem 1.72

The heat Q (measured in units of kg·m2/s2) extracted from an object of mass m that experiences a temperature decrease ∆T (measured in units of K) can be expressed as:

Q = m·c·∆T.

The units for the heat capacity c are:
(A) kg·m2· s–2.
(B) kg-1·m-2·s2.
(C) K·m-2·s2.
(D) K-1·m2·s-2.

Correct answer (highlight to unhide): (D)

From the given expression, the units of these quantities are:

(kg·m2/s2) = (kg)·(units of c)·K,

The units of kg cancel on both sides, and dividing both sides by K gives:

m2/(K·s2) = (units of c).

Response (C) is the inverse of response (D). Responses (A) and (B) are inverses of each other, notably with units of kg instead of units of K.

Student responses
Sections 30880, 30881
(A) : 8 students
(B) : 4 students
(C) : 4 students
(D) : 34 students

"Difficulty level": 68%
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.77

Physics quiz question: Newton's form of Kepler's third law

Physics 205A Quiz 1, fall semester 2009
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e, Problem 1.37

An equation for the period T (measured in units of s) of a planet is given by the expression:

T2 = (4π2·R3)/(G·M).

The orbital radius R is measured in units of m, mass of the sun M is measured in units of kg, and G is a parameter with dimensions. The units for the universal gravitational constant G are:
(A) kg·m3·s-2.
(B) kg·m-3·s2.
(C) kg-1·m-3·s2.
(D) kg-1·m3·s-2.

Correct answer (highlight to unhide): (D)

Solving for G:

G = (4π2·R3)/(T2·M),

such that its units are:

m3/(s2·kg) = m3·s-2·kg-1.

Response (B) is the inverse of the correct response (D).

Student responses
Sections 70854, 70855
(A) : 4 students
(B) : 5 students
(C) : 3 students
(D) : 43 students

Success level: 78%
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.65

Student responses
Section 72177
(A) : 0 students
(B) : 4 students
(C) : 1 student
(D) : 10 students

Success level: 66%
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.29

Physics quiz question: Planck length expression

Physics 5A (currently Physics 205A) Quiz 1, fall semester 2007
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 1/e, Comprehensive Problem 1.73

Three of the fundamental constants of physics are:

      The universal gravitational constant, G = 6.7×10-11 m3·kg-1·s-2.
      The speed of light, c = 3.0×108 m·s–1.
      Planck's constant, h = 6.6×10-34 m2·kg·s-1.

What is the combination of these three constants that has the dimensions of length? This length is called the Planck length and represents the scale at which quantum mechanics becomes important.
(A) G(3/2) × c(1/2) × h(-1/2).
(B) G(1/2) × c(3/2) × h(-1/2).
(C) G(3/2) × c(-1/2) × h(1/2).
(D) G(1/2) × c(-3/2) × h(1/2).

Correct answer (highlight to unhide): (D)

The Planck length is in units of m, thus all units of kg and s must cancel out. The speed of light c has units of m/s, and notably does not have units of kg. The universal gravitational constant G has units of kg-1, and h has units of kg, so they must be raised to the same power, in order for the kg units to cancel out. This eliminates choices (A), (B), and (C) as G and h are not raised to the same power, and thus the only remaining choice (D) (where G and h have are raised to the same power) must be the correct answer.

Student responses
Sections 0906, 0907
(A) : 5 students
(B) : 14 students
(C) : 13 students
(D) : 9 students

Success level: 24%
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.19

Physics quiz question: solar intensity conversion

Physics 5A (currently Physics 205A) Quiz 1, spring semester 2008
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 1/e, Problem 1.16

The intensity of the sun's radiation that reaches Earth's atmosphere is 1.4 kW/m2 (kW = kilowatt; W = watt). What is this intensity, in units of W/mm2?
(A) 1.4×10-6 W/mm2.
(B) 1.4×10-3 W/mm2.
(C) 1.4 W/mm2.
(D) 1.4×103 W/mm2.

Correct answer (highlight to unhide): (B)

Relevant conversion factors are 1 kW = 1,000 W and 1 m = 1,000 mm. Then setting up conversion factors such that unwanted units cancel (kW, m) while desired units remain (W, mm):

1.4 kW/m2 = (1.4 kW/m2)·(1,000 W/1 kW)·(1 m/1,000 mm)·(1 m/1,000 mm) = 1.4×10-3 W/mm2.

Student responses
Sections 4987, 4988
(A) : 7 students
(B) : 6 students
(C) : 18 students
(D) : 8 students

Success level: 31%
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.37

20140530

Education research: SASS, ECCE and student learning outcomes assessment (Cuesta College, spring semester 2014)

Student achievement of course learning outcomes are assessed by administering an Student Assessment of Skills Survey (SASS), a five-point Likert scale questionnaire (Patrick M. Len, in development), and a shortened version (22 out of 45 questions) of the Electric Circuit Concept Evaluation (David Sokoloff, University of Oregon) to Physics 205B students at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA. This is the second semester of a two-semester introductory physics course (college physics, algebra-based, mandatory adjunct laboratory).

The SASS is administered online during the last week of instruction, to be completed before the final exam. The ECCE is administered in class during the last week of instruction.

The SASS results from this semester are compiled below. Values for the mean and standard deviations are given next to the modal response category for each question. Also listed is the percentage of students who have self-assessed themselves as having successfully achieving a learning outcome (responding "average," "above average," or "excellent") as opposed to not achieving success with a learning outcome (responding "very poor" or "below average").

Cuesta College
Student Assessment of Skills Survey (SASS)
Physics 205B spring semester 2014 sections 30882, 30883
N = 37

The questions below are designed to characterize your achievement of each of the learning outcomes by filling in a bubble on the rating scale provided to the right of each statement.

Mark the level of achievement that best describes your learning at the completion of the course.

1. Quantify the frequency, speed and wavelength of light.
(Achieved: 92%, unachieved: 8%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ** [2]
Average.  ************** [14]
Above average.  ********** [10]
Excellent.  ********** [10]

2. Analyze the polarization of light.
(Achieved: 97%, unachieved: 3%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  * [1]
Average.  **************** [16]
Above average.  ********** [10]
Excellent.  ********** [10]

3. Analyze reflection, refraction, and total internal reflection.
(Achieved: 92%, unachieved: 8%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  *** [3]
Average.  ************* [13]
Above average.  ************** [14]
Excellent.  ****** [6]

4. Analyze images produced by lenses.
(Achieved: 86%, unachieved: 14%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ***** [5]
Average.  **************** [16]
Above average.  *********** [11]
Excellent.  **** [4]

5. Understand optical systems such as cameras, eyes, simple magnifiers, microscopes and telescopes operate.
(Achieved: 73%, unachieved: 27%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ********* [9]
Average.  **************** [16]
Above average.  ********** [10]
Excellent.  * [1]

6. Analyze the constructive/destructive interference of waves.
(Achieved: 89%, unachieved: 11%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  **** [4]
Average.  ************** [14]
Above average.  ************** [14]
Excellent.  ***** [5]

7. Understand how double-slits produce constructive/destructive interference.
(Achieved: 92%, unachieved: 8%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  *** [3]
Average.  **************** [16]
Above average.  **************** [16]
Excellent.  ** [2]

8. Analyze the diffraction produced by a single-slit.
(Achieved: 94%, unachieved: 6%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ** [2]
Average.  ******************* [19]
Above average.  ************** [14]
Excellent.  * [1]

9. Understand how charges behave differently in conductors and insulators.
(Achieved: 76%, unachieved: 24%)
Very poor.  *** [3]
Below average.  ****** [6]
Average.  **************** [16]
Above average.  ************ [12]
Excellent.  [0]

10. Understand how a source charge exerts a force on a test charge (the direct model).
(Achieved: 86%, unachieved: 14%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  **** [4]
Average.  *************** [15]
Above average.  *************** [15]
Excellent.  ** [2]

11. Analyze the electric force exerted on a test charge by several source charges.
(Achieved: 81%, unachieved: 19%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ****** [6]
Average.  *************** [15]
Above average.  ************** [14]
Excellent.  * [1]

12. Understand how a source charge creates an electric field, which exerts a force on a test charge (the two-step field model).
(Achieved: 78%, unachieved: 22%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ******* [7]
Average.  ************** [14]
Above average.  ************ [12]
Excellent.  *** [3]

13. Analyze the electric field created by several source charges.
(Achieved: 86%, unachieved: 14%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  **** [4]
Average.  ****************** [18]
Above average.  ********** [10]
Excellent.  **** [4]

14. Understand the relationship between electric potential and electric potential energy.
(Achieved: 75%, unachieved: 25%)
Very poor.  ** [2]
Below average.  ******* [7]
Average.  *************** [15]
Above average.  ********** [10]
Excellent.  ** [2]

15. Analyze the characteristics of parallel plate capacitors.
(Achieved: 81%, unachieved: 19%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ****** [6]
Average.  *************** [15]
Above average.  ********* [9]
Excellent.  ****** [6]

16. Quantify (using Ohm's law) the resistance, electric potential difference, and current of a circuit element.
(Achieved: 89%, unachieved: 11%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  *** [3]
Average.  ************** [14]
Above average.  ************* [13]
Excellent.  ****** [6]

17. Understand how to reduce configurations of resistors to an equivalent resistance.
(Achieved: 89%, unachieved: 11%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  *** [3]
Average.  *********** [11]
Above average.  ********** [10]
Excellent.  ************ [12]

18. Understand how to apply Kirchhoff's circuit rules (the junction rule and the loop rule).
(Achieved: 86%, unachieved: 14%)
Very poor.  ** [2]
Below average.  *** [3]
Average.  ************** [14]
Above average.  ********* [9]
Excellent.  ******** [8]

19. Analyze the power used or supplied by circuit elements.
(Achieved: 89%, unachieved: 11%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  **** [4]
Average.  *************** [15]
Above average.  *********** [11]
Excellent.  ****** [6]

20. Understand how a source magnet or current-carrying wire creates a magnetic field, which exerts a force on a moving charge or current-carrying wire (the two-step field model).
(Achieved: 86%, unachieved: 14%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ***** [5]
Average.  *************** [15]
Above average.  *********** [11]
Excellent.  ****** [6]

21. Analyze the direction of a magnetic fields and forces using the appropriate right-hand rules.
(Achieved: 89%, unachieved: 11%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  **** [4]
Average.  ********** [10]
Above average.  ************ [12]
Excellent.  *********** [11]

22. Understand how generators work.
(Achieved: 74%, unachieved: 26%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ******** [8]
Average.  *********** [16]
Above average.  ******** [8]
Excellent.  ** [2]

23. Understand how changing the magnetic flux through a wire loop produces an induced emf and an induced current (Faraday's law and Lenz's law).
(Achieved: 81%, unachieved: 19%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ****** [6]
Average.  ******** [8]
Above average.  ************ [12]
Excellent.  ********** [10]

24. Analyze the step-up and step-down behavior of transformers.
(Achieved: 76%, unachieved: 24%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ******** [8]
Average.  ************** [14]
Above average.  ********* [9]
Excellent.  ***** [5]

25. Understand the conditions for stability and instability in atomic nuclei.
(Achieved: 76%, unachieved: 24%)
Very poor.  ** [2]
Below average.  ******* [7]
Average.  ****************** [18]
Above average.  ******* [7]
Excellent.  *** [3]

26. Analyze various radioactive decay processes (alpha, beta-plus, beta-minus, electron capture, and gamma).
(Achieved: 75%, unachieved: 25%)
Very poor.  ** [2]
Below average.  ******* [7]
Average.  *************** [15]
Above average.  ******* [7]
Excellent.  ***** [5]

27. Analyze the time-dependent nature of radioactive decay activity.
(Achieved: 70%, unachieved: 30%)
Very poor.  **** [4]
Below average.  ******* [7]
Average.  ********** [10]
Above average.  ************* [13]
Excellent.  *** [3]

28. Understand how Feynman diagrams are used to depict fundamental subatomic processes and interactions.
(Achieved: 73%, unachieved: 27%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ********* [9]
Average.  ********** [10]
Above average.  ************* [13]
Excellent.  **** [4]

Of the 28 student learning outcomes in the SASS, 15 were self-reported as being achieved by at least 85% of students, listed below in order of decreasing success:
2. Analyze the polarization of light. (97%)
8. Analyze the diffraction produced by a single-slit. (94%)
1. Quantify the frequency, speed and wavelength of light. (92%)
3. Analyze reflection, refraction, and total internal reflection. (92%)
7. Understand how double-slits produce constructive/destructive interference. (92%)
6. Analyze the constructive/destructive interference of waves. (89%)
16. Quantify (using Ohm's law) the resistance, electric potential difference, and current of a circuit element. (89%)
17. Understand how to reduce configurations of resistors to an equivalent resistance. (89%)
19. Analyze the power used or supplied by circuit elements. (89%)
21. Analyze the direction of a magnetic fields and forces using the appropriate right-hand rules. (89%)
4. Analyze images produced by lenses. (86%)
10. Understand how a source charge exerts a force on a test charge (the direct model). (86%)
13. Analyze the electric field created by several source charges. (86%)
18. Understand how to apply Kirchhoff's circuit rules (the junction rule and the loop rule). (86%)
20. Understand how a source magnet or current-carrying wire creates a magnetic field, which exerts a force on a moving charge or current-carrying wire (the two-step field model). (86%)

However, 13 student learning outcomes were self-reported as being achieved by less than 85% of students, listed below in order of decreasing success:
11. Analyze the electric force exerted on a test charge by several source charges. (81%)
15. Analyze the characteristics of parallel plate capacitors. (81%)
23. Understand how changing the magnetic flux through a wire loop produces an induced emf and an induced current (Faraday's law and Lenz's law). (81%)
12. Understand how a source charge creates an electric field, which exerts a force on a test charge (the two-step field model). (78%)
9. Understand how charges behave differently in conductors and insulators. (76%)
24. Analyze the step-up and step-down behavior of transformers. (76%)
25. Understand the conditions for stability and instability in atomic nuclei. (76%)
14. Understand the relationship between electric potential and electric potential energy. (75%)
26. Analyze various radioactive decay processes (alpha, beta-plus, beta-minus, electron capture, and gamma). (75%)
22. Understand how generators work. (74%)
5. Understand optical systems such as cameras, eyes, simple magnifiers, microscopes and telescopes operate. (73%)
28. Understand how Feynman diagrams are used to depict fundamental subatomic processes and interactions. (73%)
27. Analyze the time-dependent nature of radioactive decay activity. (70%)

Student learning outcomes 16, 17, 18, and 19 for this semester were also directly assessed using a shortened version of Electric Circuit Concept Evaluation.

As per the ACCJC (Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges), results from this indirect assessment SASS tool, along with the direct assessment ECCE tool will be used for course/program improvement by increasing emphasis on these lowest three learning outcomes in instruction in future semesters.

Cuesta College District Calendar Committee faculty feedback form on spring break, flex day placement proposals

Cuesta College District Calendar Committee
Faculty feedback form on spring break, flex day placement
(spring semester 2014)
N = 77

Background:
The District Calendar Committee would like to gauge faculty approval on the placement of spring break for academic years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 in the 10th week of the semester and/or the "
first full week in April."

Motivation:
  • Allows priority registration for summer classes to start after the 12th week, after the drop with "W" deadline, instead of possibly being interrupted by a late Easter-connected spring break (which occurred this academic year 2013-2014).
  • Spring break placement is now consistent rather than being cycled through very late and very early in the semester from year-to-year, possibly improving student retention:
    Spring 2014 spring break: April 21 - 26
    Spring 2015 spring break: April 7 – 11
    Spring 2016 spring break: March 29 – April 2
Proposal:
Are you in favor of placing spring break in the 10th week of the semester (and/or the "first full week in April," as appropriate) at Cuesta College?

Yes.  ********************************************************** [75%; 58 votes]
 
No.  ************* [17%; 13 votes]
 
No opinion/not sure.  ****** [8%; 6 votes]

The following are all of the optional comments to this question, verbatim and unedited.
"Having spring break at the end of April destroys the momentum of a course as students approach the home stretch, especially in project-based subjects. Spring break should not be a de facto religious holiday, tied to Easter. Rather, it should always be scheduled fairly soon after midterms."

"Prefer end of March spring break. Students need the time to recover academically and emotionally. Having a break closer to the real mid semester is better for employees and students in terms of truly having a 'break' from school. I bevel ultimately this can help with campus retention efforts."

"I would like Spring Break adjacent to Easter, either before or after. I gives more time for students returning home for this family holiday."

"I would prefer our Spring Break to be consistent with San Luis Coastal School District, which I believe is the same as Cal Poly. If that is always the 10th week, I would be in favor of this proposal. If not, I'd prefer that we make it consistent with schools in our district."

"Keep the Break the week following Easter. If you want to improve student retention, go to a 16-week semester like most other CC's have!"

"It should NEVER again be scheduled as it was in 2014. Schedule it normally, like everyone else in the area. Use simple matter, common sense practices for selection."

"I strongly support the idea of linking the break to mid-semester."

"I am in favor of a break not scheduled time off that is disruptive. It seems many students travel w/ their families on spring break. Additionally students seem to take Cal Poly's spring break. If these occur at the same time students would be back in one week. Retention is poor with the break so late in the term."

"Please align with San luis Coastal and other local schools as it is difficult or very expensive for students and staff with children"

"I would like my spring break to be the same as my children's who attend school in the Lucia Mar School District."

"I think it would be best if our spring break lined up with the spring break for the large local school districts"

"I'm concerned with the 'possibly improving student retention' comment. It doesn't make sense to make changes based on a non-fact like that."

"It is helpful to both faculty and students with children if spring break is aligned with the area K-12 schools' spring breaks. Usually, keeping our spring break linked to Easter will do this. The past two years have been anomalies due to SL Coastal aligning their spring break with Cal Poly (which they are not doing next year) and a very late Easter this year. This year was an unusual situation, not the norm."

"Place it BEFORE the Easter Sunday like the rest of the school districts to allow those with children a break with their kids."

"A quick search turned up that both Lucia Mar and San Luis Coastal school districts have their break in 2015 during the first full week in April. I would strongly encourage the Calendar Committee to always consider the K-12 school break in determining the location of our break for the sake of both our employees AND our students with children. I think this information should have been included in the rationale for detaching spring break from Easter...it could very well affect the outcome of this survey. I would be HUGELY in favor of eliminating Spring Break entirely in favor of spreading several breaks throughout the semester, as naturally occurs in the fall semester."

"Do not tie it to a specific month! Just calculate half way through and provide a much needed break. I'd rather see spring break at the middle of the semester than tied to Easter."

"I would like to align with either CalPoly or with Lucia Mar school district. We should align with one of them..."

"The middle of the semester is when students and faculty need spring break. Coordinating the break with Easter means it often too late to be helpful"

"Childcare for children of faculty in San Luis coastal."

"my daughter's bsspring break is also driven by the Easter holiday and is the only time our family can have the same week off together."

"I want to have the week after Easter off as is traditional. It's also traditional to have Christmas off and I don't want either to be done with."

"Any time in the middle of the semester (week 9 or 10) would be better than the crazy way we do it now."

"I like the idea of conisistently doing the 10th week of the semester. I was a little confused about the "first full week of April" as that would have been week 12 this year."

"I think it should be the 10th week every Spring. Anything later is counter-productive for students. Only other consideration is Spring Break for K-12 dependents. Committee has made some very poor choices for Spring Break and this year's was one of the worst."

"With so much variety in timing of local school's spring breaks, it's impossible to coordinate our break with that of the local schools. Because of this, we should do the right thing for students' education and choose a time that is in the middle of the semester."

"Spring break should coincide with the Easter holiday."

"I want the district to work with the County office of education to see if a county-wide standard can be adopted for spring break among all K-14 schools, adn possibly Cal Poly. This would put spring break around the 9th week of instruction for us, about the same time you are proposing."

"I am in favor of moving spring break to early in April; I agree with the reasoning that you have provided."

Background:
The District Calendar Committee would like to gauge faculty approval on moving mandatory flex days that occur in the middle of a semester to the week before the start of each semester for academic years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017.

Motivation:
  • Shortens the length of instructional portion of each semester without affecting instruction time, possibly improving student retention.
  • Avoids adversely affecting particular instructional weekdays currently used more than others for flex days (e.g., Fridays).
Proposal:
Are you in favor of moving in-semester flex days to the week before the start of each semester?

Yes.  *********************** [30%, 23 votes]
 
No.  **************************************** [52%; 40 votes]
 
No opinion/not sure.  ************** [18%; 14 votes]

The following are all of the optional comments to this question, verbatim and unedited.
"I would like Wednesday before Thanksgiving to be a Flex day so students travelling to see family would have the time to do this and Cuesta would still comply with the three work days per week. The rest of the Flex days could be moved to before the start of each semster."

"I would like to see a Fall Break during the Thanksgiving week as it is the most dangerous travel week of the years and I feel we should allow our students an opportunity to avoid traveling the Wednesday before Thanksgiving."

"The week before the start of each semester is an important and busy registration time for counseling faculty."

"Counselors are needed during the week before the start of each semester so this means we would be unable to flex."

"Creates too many challenges for programs that have mandated hours - means the semester would have to start flex week."

"I am always ready for a break in October which is the middle of the semester. It also allows me a chance to attend a conference at a time when it won't be so impacted. I am always back to school early each semester to get ready, so if flex was then I would not benefit."

"Your committee absolutely needs to figure out a way to make the day before Thanksgiving a holiday. Living in San Luis Obispo County, Cuesta College has a lot of students who travel for Thanksgiving. A responsible student may need to attend their Wednesday evening class and then drive a long distance right after. So, it's just a matter of time before we see our first accident/fatality from a college that doesn’t seem too concerned about this safety issue. As members of the District Calendar Committee, you will be partially responsible when such a Thanksgiving Eve event occurs."

"I need clarification/information regarding what the calendar would look like. For example, when would classes begin in fall/spring. When exactly would the flex days occur? How much would the regular semester be shortened?"

"I like the mid-October break that we currently have."

"We NEED that break in October. If we drop those we won't have a break for 10 weeks from Labor Day to Veteran's Day, It's too long for the students and too long for us. I think it's a mistake to move those to the beginning of the term. It leaves us with no relief during Fall term. Please don't do this."

"I would like to go to a 16 week or less semester."

"I'm concerned with the 'possibly improving student retention' comment. It doesn't make sense to make changes based on a non-fact like that. More should be done to ascertain more concretely what impacts these changes could have."

"Flex days in the middle of the semester disrupt student learning with extra days off."

"I would leave the October flex days as they are now; however move the May flex days to the beginning of the Spring semester."

"Just make the calendar 16 weeks and don't play 'place me' games with flex days to appease everyone."

"If we are going to stay with an 18 or 17 week calendar, I want flex breaks from the classroom."

"Having breaks scattered throughout the semester is very helpful to reducing student fatigue. Having 6 - 7 week periods of time with no breaks in them is difficult for students who take classes daily or most days of the week which is the case for almost all of our upper level STEM students (who have the most challenging schedules by far of any other group in the college)."

"Shorten the semester by any means necessary!"

"During the actual semester, there are only 3 flex days in Fall semesters and 0 flex days in Spring semesters. This proposal won't change the instruction time in spring and will only shorten 1 week in fall. This is not worth the trouble. We need to move to a standard length semester and not keep the extended semester we now have. Research on success and retention show this to be helpful for students."

"Please give sample dates."

"Students and faculty welcome this in-semester break."

"This change would affect our clinical days for nursing students. Clinical is 90% of my work load. Clinical faculty do 9 hours clinical days so shortening the semester is not an option. Flex days are supposed to be for professional development. Moving them to the beginning of the semester just makes them additional holidays."

"We need the break (flex days) in the fall--when classes are full, and my grading load is overwhelming!"

"Although I voted no, I would be OK with moving one (or possibly two) FLEX days before the semester, but I'd like to see a little something mid semester. I used to love the old atmosphere on campus when we actually DID professional development together on campus in October. Also, a short mid semester break helps rejuvinate students."

"Depending on other breaks may not be good. With long semesters students/faculty benefit from those breaks. I would be in favor of moving the Spring ones to the beginning if the week-long break was around Week 10. I'd say keep at least one in the mid part of Fall unless there's another holiday in Oct."

"YES, YES YES!!!! Please limit days off during the semester to keep equity of class time between different sections of the same course. Mondays and Fridays get so many more days off than middle days of the week. Indeed, MWF sections usually have an entire week less class time compared to TR sections because of Flex days and holidays."

"I have no reservations whatsoever! It is a GREAT idea, ESPECIALLY if we can we start the fall term a week later."

"I like the break in the middle of fall term"

"we'll need more flex programming."

"I oppose moving the fall flex days. I have taught at Cuesta since 1996, full-time since 1999, and have always liked having the time to either attend flex activities or to grade essays. Sometimes I do both. I find that because there are a few well-placed breaks during fall semester, it never seems as daunting psychologically as spring term."

Education research: MPEX pre- and post-instruction results (Cuesta College, spring semester 2014)

The Maryland Physics Expectations survey (MPEX, Redish, Saul, and Steinberg, 1998) was administered to Cuesta College Physics 205B (college physics, algebra-based, mandatory adjunct laboratory) students at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA. The MPEX was given during the first week of the semester, and then on the last week of the semester, to quantify student attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions about physics using six question categories, rating responses as either favorable or unfavorable towards:
  1. Independence--beliefs about learning physics--whether it means receiving information or involves an active process of reconstructing one's own understanding;
  2. Coherence--beliefs about the structure of physics knowledge--as a collection of isolated pieces or as a single coherent system;
  3. Concepts--beliefs about the content of physics knowledge--as formulas or as concepts that underlie the formulas;
  4. Reality Link--beliefs about the connection between physics and reality--whether physics is unrelated to experiences outside the classroom or whether it is useful to think about them together;
  5. Math Link--beliefs about the role of mathematics in learning physics--whether the mathematical formalism is used as a way of representing information about physical phenomena or mathematics is just used to calculate numbers;
  6. Effort--beliefs about the kind of activities and work necessary to make sense out of physics--whether they expect to think carefully and evaluate what they are doing based on available materials and feedback or not.
Cuesta College
Physics 205B spring semester 2014 sections 30882, 30883
San Luis Obispo, CA campus
(N = 33, matched pairs only, excluding negative informed consent form responses)

Percentage of (favorable:unfavorable) responses
Overall   Independence   Coherence   Concepts   Reality link   Math link   Effort   
Initial   56:2142:2050:2650:2277:0452:2570:16
Final   55:2352:1848:2956:2273:1356:1856:20

Of note this semester is the positive shift in independence (belief in active process of understanding). Nearly all previous semesters of MPEX results for this course have shown negative shifts in this category. This semester had an increased emphasis on the flipped classroom format (with "just-in-time teaching" online reading assignments), and in-class group problem-solving worksheets ("lecture-tutorials), in addition to the somewhat de-emphasized use of flashcards ("peer instruction") as compared to previous semesters.

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