20090830

Online reading assignment question: Virgo rising

Astronomy 210, Fall Semester 2009
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Students have a weekly online reading assignment (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com), where they answer questions based on reading their textbook, reviewing 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 question was asked following the lecture covering use of starwheels.)

What date would Virgo be just above the east horizon, as seen by an observer at 11 PM in San Luis Obispo, CA? (Ignore the fact that your starwheel does not include daylight savings time.) (Graded for completion.)
(A) February 20.
(B) April 25.
(C) July 4.
(D) August 20.
(E) (I'm lost, and don't know how to answer this.)

Correct answer: (A).

Response (B) is when Virgo would lie along the meridian at 11 PM. Response (C) is when Virgo would be just above the west horizon at 11 PM. Response (D) is when Virgo would be just above the east horizon at 11 AM.

Student responses
Sections 70158, 70160
(A) : 52 students
(B) : 3 students
(C) : 2 students
(D) : 5 students
(E) : 8 students

20090829

Astronomy current events question: recent impact on Jupiter

Astronomy 210L, Fall Semester 2009
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Students are assigned to read online articles on current astronomy events, and take a short current events quiz during the first 10 minutes of lab. (This motivates students to show up promptly to lab, as the time cut-off for the quiz is strictly enforced!)
The Editors of Sky & Telescope, "The Impact on Jupiter!" July 20, 2009
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/news/51237952.html
How was the recent impact on Jupiter first discovered by an Australian astronomer?
(A) A cloud of dust surrounding Jupiter.
(B) A new dark spot on Jupiter.
(C) A shift in Jupiter's orbital position.
(D) A bright flash from the collision event.
(E) Radioactivity emitted from Jupiter.

Correct answer: (B).

Student responses
Sections 70178, 71086, 70200
(A) : 5 students
(B) : 53 students
(C) : 5 students
(D) : 0 students
(E) : 2 students

20090828

Astronomy current events question: recent planetary collision

Astronomy 210L, Fall Semester 2009
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Students are assigned to read online articles on current astronomy events, and take a short current events quiz during the first 10 minutes of lab. (This motivates students to show up promptly to lab, as the time cut-off for the quiz is strictly enforced!)
K. Beatty, "Exoplanets' 'Demolition Derby,'" August 11, 2009
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/news/52978747.html
What evidence did scientists at the Applied Physics Laboratory observe to determine that two planets around star HD 172555 recently collided?
(A) Very large planetary fragments.
(B) The star HD 172555 no longer wobbles.
(C) A sudden end to radio signals of presumably technological origin.
(D) A bright flash from the collision event.
(E) Infrared light emitted from dust.

Correct answer: (E).

Student responses
Sections 70178, 71086, 70200
(A) : 10 students
(B) : 3 students
(C) : 2 students
(D) : 3 students
(E) : 46 students

20090827

Presentation: moderating course expectations with negative student reviews

This presentation is given at the end of the first day of class, in order to make several points regarding the instructor's expecations of students in this course, and in the process defusing the motivations of several types of negative comments made by students.

The presentation is apparently a fluff piece showing the instructor's top reviews/evaluations selected from comments from RateMyProfessors.com, CuestaRatings.com, and myspace.com (student evaluations links defunct as of August 2009).



The first comment is reasonably innocuous and bland.



The second comment starts to get a rise out of students. The instructor ironically notes that these are supposedly the best comments selected from online.



Each subsequent comment looks less flattering and more menacing.



Profanity is always a sign of profundity.



Following the last student comment is when the instructor tells the class that the intent of showing these comments is to respond to them one-by-one, in order make several points regarding what is expected of students in this class.



Starting over from the first slide:
  • "You do need to read and you do need to go to class."
    This is relatively straightforward. The first online reading assignment link (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com) is shown, where students answer multiple-choice questions and open-ended response questions regarding concepts previously covered in class, and on material from the textbook to be covered in the next upcoming class.

  • "Even if you attend class, the tests and quizzes are impossible."
    Test and quiz questions are pointedly adapted from think-(pair)-share questions used in class, and tests and quizzes from past semesters are posted online (without answers) to be accessible to all students, and not just those with acquaintances that took this course in a previous semester.

  • "Expects you to piece some things together without any help."
    This is the point of getting students to think when doing think-(pair)-share questions.

  • "Can't teach for _____. Does a bad job of explaining things."
    This is the pair of think-(pair)-share, where students need to be able to explain their reasoning to another student, or at the very least listen to, and critically evaluate the merit of an explanation from a peer.

  • "Actually, to call him a teacher would be silly because p-dog [the instructor] does not teach."
    The instructor will teach if after the second round of think-(pair)-share students cannot reach a consensus on the correct answer. But the students need to make an effort to demonstrate that they need intervention, and are not going to be lectured to in a passive listening mode unless absolutely necessary.


The last slide is the generic "time for questions" prompt.



Reference:

20090822

FCI pre-test comparison: Cuesta College (SLO/NC campuses) versus UC-Davis

Students at both North County (Paso Robles) and San Luis Obispo campuses of Cuesta College (San Luis Obispo, CA) and the University of California at Davis were administered the Force Concept Inventory (Doug Hestenes, et al.) during the first week of instruction. Physics 205A and Physics 7B are both algebra-based introductory general physics courses covering Newtonian mechanics.

The FCI results of NC and SLO campus students can be compared to each other.
     Cuesta College    Cuesta College    
Physics 205A Physics 205A
Fall Semester Fall Semester
2009 NC 2009 SLO
N 17 students* 57 students*
low 4 2
mean 10.0 +/- 4.8 9.7 +/- 4.4
high 23 27

*Excludes students with negative informed consent forms (*.pdf)
Despite a slightly higher mean score for NC campus students over SLO campus students, a "Student" t-test of the null hypothesis results in p = 0.20, thus there is no significant difference between NC and SLO campuses of Cuesta College.

With both NC and SLO campuses of Cuesta College students pooled together, they can be compared to students at UC-Davis.
     Cuesta College    UC-Davis
Physics 205A Physics 7B
Spring Semester Summer Session II
2009 2002
N 74 students* 76 students
low 2 2
mean 10.1 +/- 4.7 9.0 +/- 4.3
high 27 27

*Excludes students with negative informed consent forms (*.pdf)
Despite a slightly higher mean score for Cuesta College students over UC-Davis students, a "Student" t-test of the null hypothesis results in p = 0.14, thus there is no significant difference between Cuesta College and UC-Davis FCI pre-test scores.

Later this semester (Fall 2009), a comparison will be made between Cuesta College and UC-Davis FCI post-tests, along with their pre- to post-test gains.

D. Hestenes, M. Wells, and G. Swackhamer, Arizona State University, "Force Concept Inventory," Phys. Teach. 30, 141-158 (1992).
Development of the FCI, a 30-question survey of basic Newtonian mechanics concepts.

Previous FCI results: