20100626

Astronomy in-class activity: planet-hunting

Astronomy 210 In-class activity 6 v.10.06.23, Fall Semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Students find their assigned groups of three to four students, and work cooperatively on an in-class activity worksheet to determine where in the sky each naked-eye planet will be observed on a given date (here, September 2, 2010).

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20100625

Astronomy in-class activity: planet-hunting

Astronomy 210 In-class activity 6 v.10.01.11, Spring Semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Students find their assigned groups of three to four students, and work cooperatively on an in-class activity worksheet to determine where in the sky each naked-eye planet will be observed on a given date (here, February 4, 2010).

20100623

Education research: post-instruction feedback on laboratory (Cuesta College, Physics 205B, spring semester 2010)

Cuesta College students taking Physics 205B (college physics, algebra-based, mandatory adjunct laboratory) at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA take a required adjunct laboratory.

During the last week of instruction, students were given the opportunity to evaluate the laboratory components of the course.

These are the complete survey results. Analysis will be forthcoming after more data has been compiled from future semesters. Values for the mean and standard deviations are given next to the modal response category for each question. (Note that a follow-up question, "How much time did you typically spend on a lab report after the end of the experiment?" is planned to be asked in subsequent versions of this assessment.)

`Physics Laboratory Learning SurveyCuesta CollegePhysics 205B spring semester 2010 section 31988(N = 12)1. In order to receive credit for completing this survey,  first enter your first and last name below:  ____2. Which of the following best characterizes your    preparation/involvement for lab?  Mark all that apply.    Read the directions/review concepts...1. ...while doing the lab.                    5: *****2. ...immediately before starting the lab.    6: ******3. ...the night before the lab.               4: ****4. ...a day (or more) before the lab.         0:3. How often did a lab build upon a previous lecture experience?1. Never.          0 : 2. Not much.       0 : 3. Sometimes.      1 : *4. Often.          4 : ****5. Always.         7 : *******  [4.5 +/- 0.7]   4. How often did a lab build upon a previous lab experience?1. Never.          0 : 2. Not much.       0 : 3. Sometimes.      7 : *******  [3.5 +/- 0.7]4. Often.          4 : ****5. Always.         1 : *5. Rate the level of your understanding/comprehension for a typical lab.(a). Understanding of concepts before coming to lab.1. None            0 : 2. Very little.    2 : **3. Some.           8 : ********  [3.0 +/- 0.6]4. Much.           2 : **5. Complete.       0 : (b). Understanding of concepts after pre-lab discussion,       before starting work.1. None            0 : 2. Very little.    0 : 3. Some.           5 : *****4. Much.           6 : ******  [3.7 +/- 0.7]5. Complete.       1 : *(c). Understanding of concepts after completing in-lab work. 1. None            0 : 2. Very little.    0 : 3. Some.           1 : *4. Much.           5 : *****5. Complete.       6 : ******  [4.4 +/- 0.7](d). Understanding of concepts after completing lab report.1. None            0 : 2. Very little.    0 : 3. Some.           1 : *4. Much.           4 : ****5. Complete.       7 : *******  [4.5 +/- 0.7](e). Comprehension of overall lab procedure/instructions. 1. None            0 : 2. Very little.    0 : 3. Some.           3 : ***4. Much.           5 : *****  [4.1 +/- 0.8]5. Complete.       4 : ****(f). Comprehension of overall lab purpose.  1. None            0 : 2. Very little.    0 : 3. Some.           1 : *4. Much.           7 : *******  [4.3 +/- 0.6]5. Complete.       4 : ****6. Typically a lab would help me understand the concepts.1. Strongly disagree.      0 : 2. Disagree.               0 : 3. Neutral.                1 : *4. Agree.                  7 : *******  [4.3 +/- 0.6]5. Strongly agree.         4 : ****7. How much time did you typically spend preparing/studying    before the start of lab (including work on pre-lab    assignments)?1. 15 minutes or less.     6 : ******2. 30 minutes.             5 : *****3. 1 hour.                 0 : 4. 2 hours.                1 : *5. 3 hours or more.        0 : `

20100622

Education research: post-instruction feedback on flashcards and online reading assignments (Cuesta College, Physics 205B, Spring Semester 2010)

Cuesta College students taking Physics 205B (college physics, algebra-based, mandatory adjunct laboratory) at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA use flashcards to engage in peer-interaction ("think-(pair)-share") discussion questions during lecture, and complete weekly online reading assignments (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.

During the last week of instruction, students were given the opportunity to evaluate the instructional components of the course, and the use of flashcards and online reading assignments in an online "Learning Resource Survey" hosted by SurveyMonkey.com. Questions from section II are adapted from the Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) survey (developed by Elaine Seymour, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison), and questions from section III (III.1, III.3, III.5, and III.7) were adapted from a "Clicker Attitude Survey" (N. W. Reay, Lei Bao, and Pengfei Li, Physics Education Research Group, Ohio State University).

These are the complete survey results. Analysis will be forthcoming after more data has been compiled from future semesters. Values for the mean and standard deviations are given next to the modal response category for each question. Note that the order of questions within sections II, III and V were randomly scrambled for each student.
`Learning Resource SurveyCuesta CollegePhysics 205B Spring Semester 2010 section 31988(N = 11)I. In order to receive credit for completing this survey,  first enter your first and last name below:  ____II. How much did each of the following aspects of the class help   your learning?II.1 Lecture by instructor.1. Strongly disagree      0 : 2. Disagree               0 : 3. Neutral                1 : *4. Agree                  7 : *******  [4.2 +/- 0.6]5. Strongly agree         3 : ***   II.2 Doing unassigned textbook problems/clicker questions/practice quizzes.1. Strongly disagree      1 : *2. Disagree               1 : *3. Neutral                4 : ****  [3.4 +/- 1.1]4. Agree                  3 : ***5. Strongly agree         2 : **II.3 Using flashcards to participate in class.1. Strongly disagree      1 : *2. Disagree               0 : 3. Neutral                0 : 4. Agree                  7 : *******  [4.0 +/- 1.0]5. Strongly agree         3 : ***II.4 Reading the textbook.    1. Strongly disagree      2 : **2. Disagree               4 : ****3. Neutral                1 : *4. Agree                  3 : ****  [2.7 +/- 1.4]5. Strongly agree         1 : *II.5 Demonstrations/videos in class.     1. Strongly disagree      0 : 2. Disagree               1 : *3. Neutral                2 : **4. Agree                  6 : ******  [3.8 +/- 0.8]5. Strongly agree         2 : **II.6 Interacting with other students during class.  1. Strongly disagree      0 : 2. Disagree               0 : 3. Neutral                2 : **4. Agree                  6 : ******  [4.1 +/- 0.7]5. Strongly agree         3 : ***II.7 Online reading assignments. 1. Strongly disagree      0 : 2. Disagree               1 : *3. Neutral                3 : ***4. Agree                  5 : *****  [3.7 +/- 0.9]5. Strongly agree         2 : **II.8 Online homework assignments. 1. Strongly disagree      0 : 2. Disagree               0 : 3. Neutral                4 : ****4. Agree                  6 : ******  [3.7 +/- 0.6]5. Strongly agree         1 : *II.9 Interacting with other students outside of class.1. Strongly disagree      1 : *2. Disagree               2 : **3. Neutral                3 : ***4. Agree                  4 : *****  [3.2 +/- 1.1]5. Strongly agree         1 : *III. Answer the following statements which may or may not describe    your beliefs about the use of flashcards in this class.III.1 I like using flashcards.1. Strongly disagree      2 : **2. Disagree               0 : 3. Neutral                1 : *4. Agree                  6 : ******  [3.5 +/- 1.4]5. Strongly agree         2 : **III.2 Flashcards helped me understand lectures better.  1. Strongly disagree      2 : **2. Disagree               0 : 3. Neutral                1 : *4. Agree                  4 : ****  [3.7 +/- 1.5]5. Strongly agree         4 : ****III.3 I would recommend using flashcards in future semesters of Physics 205B.1. Strongly disagree      2 : **2. Disagree               0 : 3. Neutral                1 : *4. Agree                  5 : *****  [3.6 +/- 1.4]5. Strongly agree         3 : ***III.4 I will avoid other classes using flashcards in future semesters.1. Strongly disagree      3 : ***2. Disagree               3 : ***  [2.5 +/- 1.4]3. Neutral                3 : ***4. Agree                  1 : *5. Strongly agree         1 : *III.5 Flashcards were a positive experience.   1. Strongly disagree      1 : *2. Disagree               0 : 3. Neutral                0 : 4. Agree                  8 : ********  [3.9 +/- 1.0]5. Strongly agree         2 : **III.6 Too much time in class was spent using flashcards.  1. Strongly disagree      2 : **2. Disagree               4 : ****  [2.5 +/- 1.2]3. Neutral                4 : ****4. Agree                  0 : 5. Strongly agree         1 : *III.7 Too many flashcard questions were asked.1. Strongly disagree      2 : **2. Disagree               4 : ****  [2.4 +/- 1.2]3. Neutral                3 : ***4. Agree                  0 : 5. Strongly agree         1 : *   III.8 Using flashcards was difficult.1. Strongly disagree      5 : *****  [1.9 +/- 1.7]2. Disagree               3 : ***3. Neutral                2 : **4. Agree                  1 : *5. Strongly agree         0 :IV. (Optional.) Please type in any comments you may have regarding   the use of flashcards in Physics 205B.`
The following are all of the student responses to this question, verbatim and unedited.
"The flash cards are great! If the class was not understanding the topic you were able to elaborate on it. I wish more classes used flash cards."

"None."

"By doing example problems and making us become involved in the problem really helped. If it wasn't for the flashcards I probably wouldn't have tried and would have just waited for the answer to be revealed. The flashcards forced me to participate and that was to my own benefit."

"Didnt really help me at all. I think that setting up a problem on the board, walking the students through, then setting up a second and letting the students do it, then solving it for them step by step is much more helpful."

"i enjoyed your class and your teaching style i am dissapointed you did not not teach a morning class in slo"

"The clicker was much better I enjoyed using the clicker during class."

"Flash cards help to cement the learning experience. By dicussing the topic with peers, you see different methods to explain it, which could appeal to the student differently than just the way the instructor explains it. We should use flash cards more often to make the class more lively and interactive."
`V. Answer the following statements which may or may not describe    your beliefs about working on the online reading assignments    in this class.V.1 Online reading assignments were a positive experience.1. Strongly disagree      0 : 2. Disagree               0 : 3. Neutral                1 : *4. Agree                  8 : ********  [4.1 +/- 0.5]5. Strongly agree         2 : **V.2 I like working on the online reading assignments.  1. Strongly disagree      0 : 2. Disagree               1 : *3. Neutral                2 : **4. Agree                  7 : *******  [3.7 +/- 0.7]5. Strongly agree         1 : *V.3 Too much time outside of class was spent working on online reading assignments.1. Strongly disagree      4 : ****2. Disagree               5 : *****  [1.8 +/- 1.3]3. Neutral                2 : **4. Agree                  0 : 5. Strongly agree         0 : V.4 I will avoid other classes using online reading assignments in future semesters.1. Strongly disagree      3 : ***2. Disagree               6 : ******  [1.9 +/- 1.0]3. Neutral                2 : **4. Agree                  0 : 5. Strongly agree         0 : V.5 Online reading assignments helped me understand lectures better. 1. Strongly disagree      0 : 2. Disagree               0 : 3. Neutral                3 : ***4. Agree                  7 : *******  [3.8 +/- 0.6]5. Strongly agree         1 : *V.6 Too many online reading assignment questions were asked.1. Strongly disagree      2 : **2. Disagree               5 : *****  [2.2 +/- 0.8]3. Neutral                4 : ****4. Agree                  0 : 5. Strongly agree         0 : V.7 I would recommend using online reading assignments in future semesters of this class.1. Strongly disagree      0 : 2. Disagree               0 : 3. Neutral                1 : *4. Agree                  8 : ********  [4.1 +/- 0.5]5. Strongly agree         2 : **   V.8 Completing the online reading assignments was difficult.1. Strongly disagree      3 : ***2. Disagree               6 : ******  [2.0 +/- 1.1]3. Neutral                1 : *4. Agree                  1 : *5. Strongly agree         0 :VI. (Optional.) Please type in any comments you may have regarding   the use of online home assignments in Physics 205B.`
The following are all of the student responses to this question, verbatim and unedited.
"I thought they were very helpful. However, I did not find the book easy to work with at all. I would get more confused when I referred to it. Maybe consider a new text book?"

"Maybe spend a little time in class going over the material and correcting incorrect answers. Sometimes I wasn't quite sure on if I was correct and a little clarification would have been nice. But overall, helpful and got me thinking."

"I feel that about 1 or 2 every assignment wasn't very relevant to the flashcard questions, quizzes, or tests. I think it would be better if all the questions related directly to what we are expecting to see on flashcards, quizzes, and/or tests."

"They really helped."

"i will miss ya p-dog"

"The online reading assignments could of been explained better some of the assignments werent explained too well in the text sometimes it was somewhat confusing"

"The reading assignments were a way to get ideas flowing before the class. I liked that they were graded for completiong instead of correctness - making them not so 'scary' like an exam, and more thought provoking. Rather than being asked to solve an equation, reading assignments encourage understanding of the concepts."

20100621

Astronomy 210, Spring Semester 2010
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, 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 after the last lecture, but prior to the final exam.)

Discuss the most interesting aspect of this course, and explain why this was personally interesting for you. (Graded for completion.)

The following are all of the student responses to this question, verbatim and unedited.
"how stars are form. to me i thought it was interesting because it should use that mostly everthing is made out of the same types of gasses."

"I really enjoyed this whole course! The online reading was an easy way to do homework that required me to research at home. I really enjoyed that approach."

"I thot the Morning/evening star things was pretty cool. Mostly becus I liked figuring it out."

"Astronomy is something you don't regularly study, but it may be one of the most important. . . very interesting as a whole."

"Everything we went over was very interesting but dificcult to understand"

"i liked getting to learn about stars and they lifetimes because i have always loved stars"

"How stars are born becuase they are interesting."

"Everything we learned about was interesting, but my favorite was the H-R diagram and the lifetime of the different sizes of stars. It was easy to comprehend, therefore making it fun."

"meeting new people"

"What was most interesting to me about the course was to learn that all of the stuff that makes up our bodies was in the solar system in the first few minutes of the 'big bang' and we are here because of that!! Crazy!"

"moon phases"

"I enjoyed learning about how far we've come in exploring the possibility of other life in our galaxy... I want to explore this further..."

"I like learning WHY we don't know if there is life on other plantes."

"I've always wondered, but never had an educated way of discussing it.
concepts about the nature of laws of the universe"

"Everything after the first midterm ;)"

"going over the big band and origin of life...i have my set views and basis, and i enjoy listening to other views of how life began."

"Half credit on multiple choice quizzes and tests. Without it, I'd probably have an F in the class."

"Look-back time. I think it's amazing that we can see the past."

"star wheel"

"Black Holes, because they are so mysterious and defy laws of gravity."

"By far black holes, I have been interested in them since I was a kid."

"Galaxies."

"haha i really had no idea that stars were different colors.. i thought that was really interesting and im glad i know it now!"

"How life started cuz it's interesting to me"

"i thought the stars were the most interesting because i never knew there were types of stars that lived for different amout of years"

"I liked discussing the phases of the moon and the path of the sun."

"The future of our solar system, because its a theory where we could be heading."

"I thought all the hypothetical questions were really thought provoking, they prepared me for the next section of the class and were pretty funny at the same time"

"probably the black holes because the only thing i ever heard about them was that they were caused by a star dying but i wanted to know more."

"terrestrial planets like mars and venus. I dont know why but it was interesting"

"The whole course was very interesting to me. However, probably the most interesting aspect for me was that of evolution because I was not taught this in junior high or high school. During these years, I attended a Christian school and was taught from the Creation aspect. I am glad to know about both because 'knowledge is power.'"

"I really enjoyed moon phases."

"the most interesting thig was the universal message sent into space. if they really sent one back then its even crazier."

"blackholes, can we travel thru them"

"i enjoyed learning about the rise and set times of the stars and planets and all about the moon, because it is something i notice everynight."

"I thought moon phases was the most interesting part of the course because the moon is something you see everyday and you can apply the knowledge you learned into your everyday life."

"How life formed because that is where I came from."

"black holes, they're so cool with how they bend space-time"

"The creation of the universe to now."

"the universe is expanding and the 'unknown' is pretty damn trippy."

"I really like the moon phases, they are something i can actually see and follow!"

"THE BIG BANG because i had no idea what was up prior to this class"

"Everything was interesting! I really enjoyed learning about distances and ages of stars. Our in-class activities were really awesome."

"black holes"

"Big Bang theory. I always assumed it was a massive super-nova."

"The most interesting thing about this course was everything, I mean your teaching ethics were pretty gangster. Other than that learning about the universe itself and how large and powerful it actually is quite frightening."

"the most interesting aspect was determining which phase the moon would be in at a certain time because its crazy how the schedule of the phases are so perfect"

"the most interesting aspect of this course for me was learning about our neighboring planets and what they were like. it always good to know your neighbors."

"I liked to study the other planets and their properties."

"The Star wheel because I have never heard of it until this class"

"The death of stars because they exploded and I thought that was cool."

"I enjoyed learning about the expansion of the universe."

"The supernova cuz its cool"

"The most interesting aspect of this class for me was discussing the Big Bang. I think one of the most interesting questions is where did we come from and how did it all begin."

"The most interesting pare was earning about the stars because I didnt know how complex they really are."

"black holes becasuse they scare me"

"black holes"

"The most interesting aspect was the concept of 'looking back in time' because it is very mysterious."

"For some reason, the length of time low-mass stars stay on the main-sequence was particularly interesting to me. I just can't believe there are stars out there that were born WAY before me, and will die WAY after... like billions of years. It's nuts!"

"I liked learning about the stars."

"i liked the moon phases because that actually teaches you things even if your career is astronomy related"

"I really enjoyed learning about the moon and its phases. I always tell people that I am with what phase we are in when I see the moon."

"I though the most interesting was the layout of the class. I really liked the flash cards."

"the part about life on other planets was real coooooooool"

"moon phases because it was easy to remember"

"I liked learning about rising and setting moon times. Not sure when I'll use it, but it was interesting"

"i actually really liked learning about the planets more than anything."

"Most interesting aspect is to actually learn and realize how ALL OF THIS, came to be. Knowing the truth and process of how everything happens and will continue to happen forever. I think that understanding the history and the mechanics of our ever changing universe is pretty cool. After taking this course, I know have a whole new perspective on life. I now have an atronomical perspective, and a weird social life perspective of my little tiny human life."

"The most interesting part of this class was learning about the amazing and odd universe we live in."

"the most interesting aspect of the course was pretty much everything and its hard to pick which aspect was the most interesting. i guess black holes were a very interesting subject to learn about."

"how we can tell the brightness and distance of the star"

"i enjoyed learning about the stars"

"the big bang stuff. i never knew anything about it and was always curious
Big Bang / Origin of the universe. Hadn't been exposed to much of the details of theory before."

"everything was great! i think all aspects of the course were equally interesting."

"galaxies, very in depth and crazy to think of"

"Black holes and galaxies, were way more in depth than i though"

"The most interesting aspect of this course for me were the more recent things we learned, which was the study of Earth and the other planets in our solar system. Even as a kid, I was always highly interested in comparative planetology and studying the details of the other planets and their moons. This may have stemmed from my fascination with extraterrestrial life, which was another aspect of this course that I highly enjoyed and wished we would have gone more in depth with."

"I enjoyed learning about different planets and their snizz"

"The most interesting part of this course was learning about life outside of earth. This subjuect intriques me and has always been something I wonder about."

"i liked learning about planets that may have life"

"It was interesting to learn about star magnitudes."

"the stars, and the milky way"

"i think the big bang was really interesting to me. its when the universe was start thats cool"

"stars and learning about black holes, its just something very interesting to me"

"The last topic about the big bang was most interesting to me."

"black holes, I didnt understand at first how they worked or why time slowed down. but now I have a better understanding"

Discuss the most confusing aspect of this course, and explain why this was personally confusing for you. (Graded for completion.)

The following are all of the student responses to this question, verbatim and unedited.
"the moon phases. i just could never get the right moon phase at a certain point and time of a day"

"universe"

"The most confusion aspect was the section on solar properties. It was more to remember than the other sections."

"Direction of mantle flow and plate direction hurts my brain. cant figure it out."

"Pass"

"Moon Faces, different Laws."

"the astronomers were the hardest to learn because there were 7 of them and we had to memorize what they did."

"I am not sure."

"I never quite understood the moon phases completely and that is frustrating that I can't wrap my head around it."

"all the theories"

"The most confusing part of the course was all the black hole stuff and universe expansion."

"the latest stuff we learned"

"The moon phases have given me the most trouble ... but I think I finally understand- I hope I have time to memorize them."

"It used to be the moon phases, but now I think I understand it. =)"

"remembering the astronomers laws"

"The moon phases oddly enough. This was just one of the things I had trouble dialing down."

"how lightspeed is related to time."

"The really negative part of this class was there was alot of material to cover every week. Hardly any time to be lost. When I was there where some times I would get over it but sometimes I would struggle in some materials that I needed to know inorder to move on."

"Parsecs of planets. I get the whole magnitude thing, just not the parsecs."

"The different light spectrums. I kept mixing them up."

"everything but the star wheel but eventually i understood"

"The moon phases, I think many people would agree."

"The starwheels, I missed a class and have never understood them since.
Galaxies."

"goodness pat. there are just too many things"

"The Big Bang cuz too much info"

"the telescope chapter. i didnt understand it at all."

"The most confusing part of this course was was learning about telescopes for me."

"Moon phases, it was too confusing."

"Definitely the telescopes, it got really confusing with all the radius and diameters and what did what"

"The moon phases ... idk why theyre just confusing and difficult for me
telescopes or jovian planets. I was absent both days that we studied each of those subjects"

"The most confusing aspect for me was figuring out the star distances because I could not picture it in my head. However, with a diagram to work from, I eventually grasped this concept."

"The transformation of planets and stars into other things because I feel like there was so much to remember and understand all at the same time.
most confusing would be the aspect of knowing that our star will burn out.
stars"

"the most confusing aspect to me is planets. i find it hard to keep them all in order."

"learning about the sun, it's layers, miso soup?"

"Finding the planets on the diagram and knowing the times of the moon.
well...umm....maybe....deciding on the focusing length of the telescope based on the length of the telescope. it's just so hard to get just right."

"Black holes"

"I think that universal expansion is confusing as well.. I mean do we have a center or no? and how big is the universe? so many questions.."

"The Scientific parts! I like the interesting things but once things become too detailed about the how or why i get lost."

"the lights, like infared, ultraviolet etc"

"I don't know why, but personally, I got pretty confused with the different types of novae and supernovae explosion stuff."

"moon phases"

"Star lifespans. Why do stars with more fuel burn out faster than those with less?"

"The most confusing thing about this course was learning how to use the star wheel. Need to spend more time lacing the students up with game.
is deciding if a star formation can be possible just because i get mixed up i dont know why"

"I think understanding all of the concepts about stars, the formation and Destruction of them."

"Moon phases are confusing because my book has a typo and I was wrong in the beginning and now I have a hard time distinguishing what is right."

"Everything after the first Midterm. I don't know why but the information wasn't clicking"

"A lot of it was but the moon phases was the hardest for me."

"The different ypes of stars"

"The beginning of the galaxy, because theirs a lot of info there."

"The moon phases and nuclear fusion. Black holes were a difficult concept for me to grasp."

"The moon times."

"stars are confusing"

"wien laws"

"Nothing stood out as most confusing."

"The most confusing aspect of this course were the spectrums. Emission, Absorption, and continuous. I just don't really understand the difference between each one. Not so much continuous, but more emission and absorption."

"The most confusing part of this class was involving calculating the distances to stars and other galaxies."

"alot.... :("

"I was confused with the temp/distance/luminosity/comparison of stars."

"The lecture. I wish there was more explanation."

"a lot was confusing"

"star lifespans because there are so many factors"

"The life cycle of stars... I get it, but you keep saying they were all born at the same time"

"light and emission spectrums are the most confusing for me
confusing aspect I would say would have to be understanding the main sequences."

"The most confusing aspect of the course was trying to understand everything without getting it all mixed up."

"everything in the class was confusing but the moon phases and the star wheel are examples of subjects in the class that were confusing for me."

"moonn phases"

"how the universe is formed"

"stars, there was a lot of stuff to remember and a lot of things were backwards"

"Probably identifying possible star cluster diagrams but only because I missed that lecture and I only kind of understood the book explanation."

"The most confusing aspect for me was anything concerning the star wheel, because i only somewhat know how to use that thing."

"a lot of astronomy"

"A lot of it, just because its hard"

"The most confusing aspect of this course would have to be the life of stars, because there was so much detail to learn about how stars are created, how they live on the main sequence, and how they die. Also, a lot of chemistry was involved dealing with the composition of stars and the nuclear fusions that happen in their cores, and it was hard to keep everything straight. The life of stars took the most work for me to understand out of anything else we learned this semester, and at this point, I'm kind of tired of our Sun."

"I thought learning about supernovas was complex"

"The most confusing part of the course was the star wheel because I never got one."

"Why didn't I get any phone numbers from girls?"

"light rays where confusing because thet used a lot of crazy lingo"

"The life and death of a star were the most difficult concepts to understand."

"the short answer on the tests were tough"

"stars are a little confusing."

"moon phases and stuff about the sun"

"Probably the moon phases."

"the toughest part for me was understanding what the differences between the terrain of different planets. mostly because I missed that day of class..."

Tell a student who is about to take this course next semester what he/she needs to know or to do in order to succeed in this course. (Graded for completion.)

The following are all of the student responses to this question, verbatim and unedited.
"take notes and and ask question if you are lost on a certain subject and do the practice quizs"

"keep an open mind"

"Just stay on top of the homework and reading and you'll be ok."

"do the quizes from previous semesters and show up to class."

"Do the online THINGYS!! and just go to class"

"Read the text, study pass quiz, do flashcard question answers by yourself. PAY ATTENTION IN CLASS"

"GO TO CLASS!!!! the in class assignments and the online reading assignments really help learn the material and get a good grade.
just go to class and focus and put in hard work."

"You need to have dedication and good study habits to do well in this class. Also you should know how to use your resources (old tests and quizzes)."

"actually show up to class"

"Come to class! Read the chapters! Do the practice quizzes!"

"print and review the flashcard questions"

"STUDY your old quizzes/ tests... And read the summary of each chapter, it highlights the important info if you missed it in the chapter."

"If you didn't get much out of the reading for whatever reason, go to the back of each chapter and read the book's summary, it highlights the important aspects of the chapter. Very helpful right before a test. =)
pay attention during lecture"

"Do all the online reading assignments and extra credit surveys, the extra points will help out a little. Also save all your previous quizzes, they will help you study for the mid terms."

"go to class, due you online reading assignments, SAVE ALL YOUR OLD QUIZES."

"READ!!!!!! This course anyone can pass by showing up. If you read you learn way more offered to you!!!"

"Know what you are doing on the in-class activities."

"On-line reading assignments Attendance Pick up in-class activities "

"Hold on to quizzes and midterms"

"study for quizzes"

"Go over the flashcard questions before every quiz and test."

"Read the chapters every single time."

"Do you."

"you MUST study your quizzes for your midterms! and look at past exams"

"They need read the chapters in the book before being discussed in class, they need to study for the quizzes by looking over the past quizzes and need to do the online assignments because they really help (="

"Attend every class."

"If logical thinking is not your forte, then your going to have to study and memorize more then normal"

"Study, do all the online assignments, and GO TO CLASS!!"

"Use you're brain. Try to think about the content and make it make sense in your mind. Otherwise you will try to memorize information to regergitate out on test day and it wont work. P-dawg makes you have to think"

"Printing off my own copy of the power points and in-class activities was extremely helpful for me to study from. The practice quizzes were also extremely helpful. It is important to stay dilligent in studying. There are a lot of concepts to grasp in this class. If you do not understand something seek help right away. Waiting will only make matters worse. Be sure to start the class strong. This will enable you to end the class strong as well."

"study, read ur book, go to class"

"take good notes and go in if you need help and do all the online reading assignments."

"Go to class! it's long but only once a week."

"They need to read the chapter before the lecture to get a better understanding and do all the online reading assignments to build up points."

"Um...probably focus in the class."

"Do every single online reading assignment and in class activities. show up for every quiz even though you didn't study but study anyways. I mean P-Dawg hooks it up with a way so everyone can get a good grade, just don't be lazy!!"

"call him P-Dog, your you'll be the odd man out."

"Pay attention in class and you'll be smoooth sailin. I swear 'sall you gotta do"

"Attend class and rack up points with in-class activites and reading assignments."

"use all the resources pdog gives you"

"Go to all the lectures."

"Study the online quizes and read the book."

"go to every single class and listen"

"Read the book and also make sure that you ask questions about the things that you don't understand, don' t be afraid to ask for help."

"Make sure to do the online reading assignments, easy points, stay the WHOLE class period, also easy points. Also, study with the old tests and quizzes and you will be money."

"I'm not really sure because I didn't do too well"

"Just make sure you do all the assingments and dont worry about missing one or two classes :)"

"Read your book, Dr. Len's blog and do the practice quizzes. I think it is possible for anyone to do well in this class if you show up and participate."

"Just do all the work and study what you say to study for the midterms."

"Participate in the in class activities, show up, and dont forget to do the online homework"

"use what pdog gives you"

"GO TO CLASS!"

"Go to class and do the in-class activities, do the online reading assignments, and STUDY HARD for all the quizzes. Missing class will hurt your grade the most."

"Get all of your work done and go to class."

"ONLINE READINGS AND INCLASS ACTIVITY YO"

"Just go to class."

"study for the tests and make sure you know the material for the short answer section"

"Study old quizzes, set an reminder for Online reading assignments. You don't Wanna miss them."

"read the book more and ask questions in class when you are confused"

"You need to read the book, and listen in class. Take notes, and have fun learning it."

"Go to every class and listen!"

"typical but still very true/necessary to succeed in a class... listen very well to the lectures/read the text book, take very good(detailed) notes, and ask questions when you don't understand the material."

"GO TO ALL THE QUIZES!"

"show up, do in class work and online reading and extra credit and try your hardest and you will do fine"

"do the online hw and any extra credit and try to make it to atleast 80% of class and you will pass"

"Do your homework, read your textbook and participate in class to your fullest. Astronomy is awesome and P-Dog does a good job of teaching you if you let him."

"Do your best to make it to every class! Everything's interesting, and the class is relatively easy if you do so."

"focus on studying book"

"Study the book intensely"

"Go to class. If you go to class, participate, and take good lecture notes, you probably won't have to crack open your book ever. All the information you need to know is presented in class, and by missing class, you miss out on a lot of information that you'll need to know for quizzes and midterms."

"Do the online reading assignments and in class activitiez"

"Study. The class is easy if you keep up with the work"

"get as many points as possible"

"Don't stress out, just study what P-dog tells you to and you will be just fine!"

"to go to class and stay the whole time every night"

"show up to class everyday and do homework and you will do just fine"

"read over what you learn in class in the book and DO THE ONLINE HOMEWORK IT WILL SAVE YOUR ASS!!!"

"Study flash card questions and in class activies"

"Same old stuff come to class every day do the reading assignments and stay till the end of class and youll get an A!!!"

Previous post:

20100620

Orion SkyQuest XT8: post-assembly photos

20100608559
http://www.flickr.com/photos/waiferx/4683392983/

Orion SkyQuest XT8 with IntelliScope, Cuesta College North County Campus, Paso Robles, CA.

20100608560
http://www.flickr.com/photos/waiferx/4683393721/

Looking down into an Orion SkyQuest XT8 with IntelliScope, Cuesta College North County Campus, Paso Robles, CA.

20100608560
http://www.flickr.com/photos/waiferx/4684023920/

Eyepiece, Orion SkyQuest XT8 with IntelliScope, Cuesta College North County Campus, Paso Robles, CA.

20100608568
http://www.flickr.com/photos/waiferx/4684025334/

Secondary mirror and mounting spider (with primary mirror at the back of the tube). Orion SkyQuest XT8 with IntelliScope, Cuesta College North County Campus, Paso Robles, CA. Photos by Cuesta College Physical Sciences Division instructor Dr. Patrick M. Len.

20100619

Bon mots: excuses

"Whoever wants to be a judge of human nature should study people's excuses."
--Friedrich Hebbel

"He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else."
--Benjamin Franklin

"Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts."
--Edward R. Murrow

20100618

Bon mots: energy and energy conservation

"Energy and persistence conquer all things."
--Benjamin Franklin

"Energy isn't merely an enabler of things. In a real sense it is the thing itself. The flow of electricity, the digestion of food, the extraction of metal from ore: Energy is perpetually being consumed, transformed and put to new use. Such an intrinsic ingredient in everyday life obviously requires wise management. But setting energy policy gets ever more complicated because even as worldwide energy use skyrockets, we are discovering in greater detail how the deleterious byproducts of energy use can foul our habitat and hasten climate change."
--Thomas R. Casten and Phillip F. Schewe, "Getting the Most from Energy," American Scientist, vol. 97 no. 1, p. 26, January-February 2009.

"It is instructive to compare this [conservation of energy equation] to a student's back account--the balance does not change if there are no transfers into or out of the bank system. When there are transfers in the form of deposits, withdrawals, fees, interest, and checks written, however, the balance changes by exactly the net amount of money transferred by these processes."
--John W. Jewett, Jr., "Energy and the Confused Student IV: A Global Approach to Energy," The Physics Teacher, vol. 46, April 2008, p. 210

"The energy associated with a body consists of energy of rest and/or energy of motion. These are equivalently identified as mass energy (mc^2) and kinetic energy (KE). The various forms of PE are equivalent to variations in the mass of a system of interacting parts. Conservation of energy in all its applications can be expressed in terms of the total or partial transfer of mass and/or its transformation into KE and vice versa. On the cosmic scale, the conversion of energy into mass and mass back into energy is the grand dance of the universe."
--Eugene Hecht, "Energy Conservation Simplified," The Physics Teacher vol. 46, Feburary 2008, p. 80

"What is sometimes not appreciated is that the very essence of thermodynamics, the characteristic that distinguishes it from mechanics, is that invisible energy storage modes of macroscopic matter are important. Indeed, thermodynamics can be defined as the science of energy spreading within and between macroscopic objects. For blocks, inclined planes, and the like encountered in mechanics, internal storage modes are typically ignored. As friction becomes important pure mechanics morphs into thermodynamics, where internal energy storage modes are central."
"Pure mechanics can be viewed as a form of constant-entropy reversible thermodynamics. In contrast, for any irreversible thermodynamics process, there is an increase of energy spreading over space, entailing increased energy and/or space, and increased temporal spreading over microstates."
--Harvey S. Leff, "Thermodynamics is Easy--I've Learned It Many Times," The Physics Teacher, vol. 45, no. 2, February 2007, p. 71

"For those who want some proof that physicists are human, the proof is in the idiocy of all the different units which they use for measuring energy."
--Richard P. Feynman, The Character of Physical Law

"Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal."
--Albert Camus

"Every time you don't follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness."
--Shakti Gawain

"Energy is the essence of life. Every day you decide how you're going to use it by knowing what you want and what it takes to reach that goal, and by maintaining focus."
--Oprah Winfrey, O Magazine, July 2003

"Energy is eternal delight."
--William Blake

"Engineering is the science of economy, of conserving the energy, kinetic and potential, provided and stored up by nature for the use of man. It is the business of engineering to utilize this energy to the best advantage, so that there may be the least possible waste."
--William A. Smith

"Crime is naught but misdirected energy."
--Emma Goldman, Anarchism

"Scientists have estimated that the energy given off during the Big Bang is roughly equal to 1CNRhK (Chuck Norris Roundhouse Kick)."
--chucknorrisfacts.com

20100617

Bon mots: success and failure (part 2)

"One's best successes comes after their greatest disappointments."
--Henry Ward Beecher

"Contrary to popular belief, the brain is not designed for thinking. It's designed to save you from having to think, because the brain is actually not very good at thinking. Thinking is slow and unreliable. Nevertheless, people enjoy mental work if it is successful. People like to solve problems, but not to work on unsolvable problems. If schoolwork is always just a bit too difficult for a student, it should be no surprise that she doesn't like school much. The cognitive principle that guides this article is: People are naturally curious, but they are not naturally good thinkers; unless the cognitive conditions are right, people will avoid thinking. The implication of this principle is that teacher should reconsider how they encourage their students to think in order to maximize the likelihood that students will get the pleasurable rush that comes from successful thought."
--Daniel T. Willingham, "Why Don't Students Like School? Because the Mind Is Not Designed for Thinking," American Educator vol. 33, no. 1, Spring 2009, p. 4

"Our bravest and best lessons are not learned through success, but through misadventure."
--Amos Bronson Alcott

"If you set your goals ridiculously high and it's a failure, you will fail above everyone else's success."
--James Cameron

"Fourth Law of Thermodynamics: If the probability of success is not almost one, then it is damn near zero."
--David R. Ellis

"Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor."
--Truman Capote

"Victory is sweetest when you've known defeat."
--Malcolm Forbes

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
--Thomas A. Edison

"I think and think for months and years.
Ninety-nine times, the conclusions are false.
The hundredth time I am right."
--Albert Einstein

"Optimism can keep a fool from accepting failure."
--Ernest Hemingway

"If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative."
--Woody Allen

Previous post:

20100616

Education research: post-instruction feedback on flashcards and online reading assignments (Cuesta College, Astronomy 210, Spring Semester 2010)

Cuesta College students taking Astronomy 210 (introductory astronomy) at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA use flashcards to engage in peer-interaction ("think-(pair)-share") discussion questions during lecture, and complete weekly online reading assignments (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.

During the last week of instruction, students were given the opportunity to evaluate the instructional components of the course, and the use of flashcards and online reading assignments in an online "Learning Resource Survey" hosted by SurveyMonkey.com. Questions from section II are adapted from the Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) survey (developed by Elaine Seymour, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison), and questions from section III (III.1, III.3, III.5, and III.7) were adapted from a "Clicker Attitude Survey" (N. W. Reay, Lei Bao, and Pengfei Li, Physics Education Research Group, Ohio State University).

These are the complete survey results. Analysis will be forthcoming after more data has been compiled from future semesters. Values for the mean and standard deviations are given next to the modal response category for each question. Note that the order of questions within sections II, III, and V were randomly scrambled for each student.
`Learning Resource SurveyCuesta CollegeAstronomy 210 Spring Semester 2010 sections 30674, 30676(N = 93)I. In order to receive credit for completing this survey,    first enter your first and last name below:   ____II. How much did each of the following aspects of the class help     your learning?II.1 Lecture by instructor.1. Strongly disagree      0 : 2. Disagree               5 : *****3. Neutral               16 : ****************4. Agree                 47 : ***********************************************  [4.0 +/- 0.8]5. Strongly agree        24 : ************************     II.2 Working in groups on in-class activities. 1. Strongly disagree      0 : 2. Disagree               4 : ****3. Neutral                6 : ******4. Agree                 52 : ****************************************************  [4.2 +/- 0.7]5. Strongly agree        31 : *******************************II.3 Using flashcards to participate in class.1. Strongly disagree      1 : *2. Disagree               6 : ******3. Neutral               10 : **********4. Agree                 43 : *******************************************  [4.1 +/- 0.9]5. Strongly agree        33 : *********************************II.4 Reading the textbook.1. Strongly disagree     10 : **********2. Disagree               9 : *********3. Neutral               27 : ***************************4. Agree                 32 : ********************************  [3.4 +/- 1.5]5. Strongly agree        15 : ***************II.5 Demonstrations/videos in class.      1. Strongly disagree      1 : *2. Disagree               1 : *3. Neutral               12 : ************4. Agree                 47 : ***********************************************  [4.2 +/- 0.8]5. Strongly agree        32 : ********************************II.6 Interacting with other students during class.   1. Strongly disagree      1 : *2. Disagree               3 : ***3. Neutral               13 : *************4. Agree                 46 : **********************************************  [4.1 +/- 0.8]5. Strongly agree        30 : ******************************II.7 Interacting with other students outside of class.1. Strongly disagree      5 : *****2. Disagree              19 : *******************3. Neutral               37 : *************************************  [3.1 +/- 1.1]4. Agree                 21 : *********************5. Strongly agree        10 : **********II.8 Online reading assignments.1. Strongly disagree      3 : 2. Disagree               6 : ******3. Neutral               29 : *****************************4. Agree                 34 : **********************************  [3.7 +/- 1.0]5. Strongly agree        20 : ********************III. Answer the following statements which may or may not describe      your beliefs about the use of flashcards in this class.III.1 I like using flashcards. 1. Strongly disagree      0 : 2. Disagree               6 : ******3. Neutral               13 : *************4. Agree                 49 : *************************************************  [4.0 +/- 0.8]5. Strongly agree        25 : *************************III.2 Flashcards helped me understand lectures better.   1. Strongly disagree      1 : *2. Disagree               5 : *****3. Neutral               14 : **************4. Agree                 51 : ***************************************************  [3.9 +/- 0.8]5. Strongly agree        22 : **********************III.3 I would recommend using flashcards in future semesters of this class. 1. Strongly disagree      1 : *2. Disagree               0 : 3. Neutral               10 : **********4. Agree                 48 : ************************************************  [4.2 +/- 0.7]5. Strongly agree        34 : **********************************III.4 I will avoid other classes using flashcards in future semesters. 1. Strongly disagree     37 : *************************************2. Disagree              46 : **********************************************  [1.7 +/- 3.9]3. Neutral                7 : *******4. Agree                  3 : 5. Strongly agree         0 : III.5 Flashcards were a positive experience.    1. Strongly disagree      0 : 2. Disagree               3 : ***3. Neutral               10 : **********4. Agree                 54 : ******************************************************  [4.1 +/- 0.7]5. Strongly agree        25 : *************************III.6 Too much time in class was spent using flashcards.   1. Strongly disagree     25 : *************************2. Disagree              42 : ******************************************  [2.1 +/- 2.7]3. Neutral               19 : *******************4. Agree                  6 : ******5. Strongly agree         1 : *III.7 Too many flashcard questions were asked. 1. Strongly disagree     21 : *********************2. Disagree              52 : ****************************************************  [2.1 +/- 1.3]3. Neutral               13 : *************4. Agree                  7 : *******5. Strongly agree         0 :      III.8 Using flashcards was difficult. 1. Strongly disagree     37 : *************************************2. Disagree              39 : ***************************************  [1.8 +/- 3.9]3. Neutral               10 : **********4. Agree                  6 : ******5. Strongly agree         0 : IV. (Optional.) Please type in any comments you may have regarding     the use of flashcards in Astronomy 210.`
The following are all of the student responses to this question, verbatim and unedited.
"it was good to use to see if you understood the concepts that were just learned in class"

"they helped"

"=D"

"Great Idea, forces participation"

"I think that using flash cards was good when we understood the lecture."

"i liked getting to use them because you or a fellow student would explain the subject if i didnt understand it."

"I have no comments, everything in astronomy class was great!"

"Flashcard questions really helped in understanding the material."

"i liked them"

"I don't think the 'i'm lost and dont know how to answer this' should be an option because I think it gives some students a chance to slack off and not think in class."

"i think that the flashcard questions really helped with understanding the material"

"I liked the flashcards for the most part- they were occasionally intimidating if I felt someone was starting at my answer, though"

"Sometimes it was awkward to show my flashcard when I didn't know an answer. I could tell that other students were looking at my answer. But I was happy when I had kind students sitting next to me that explained the correct answer."

"Flashcards work, keep them."

"flashcards are a great way to understand hard concepts but sometimes, the answer needs to be explained a little better before continuing with the lecture"

"Flashcard questions where fun and easy.... if you knew the answer. Alot of times though I would put down G or F so I wouldn't have to give an explanation since you only choose to the correst answers. I suggest next semester, instead of just picking the people with the correct cards ask people there opinion in why they choose what they choose. That way you have an idea if people are on the right track or not."

"Flashcards are great because they show if you understood that day's lecture or not."

"none"

"Keep using the flashcards"

"I like when you explain the answers as opposed to other people in the class."

"Nah."

"i like them. it makes me learn the material. cause if you pick me to tell the class what my answer is and why, i can maybe help someone else who doesnt get it!"

"They're easy to remember for quizzes and tests"

"i had never used them in any other class."

"Flashcards."

"Please keep using the flashcard system. It helps tremendously."

"I really thought that getting to hear another's students explanation was very helpful in understanding some answers or concepts."

"flashcards helped me better understand matierial in depth"

"to much time explaining, just answer with brief explanation"

"just make sure the answer is clear at the end of the question. sometimes you would just say what most people were saying instead of explaining the correct answer and why that answer was correct."

"The flashcard methods used really helped me understand the concepts in the class."

"The flashcard system was awesome!"

"they helped me understand subjects more clearly which led to greater test and quiz scores."

"i dont like having to explain to the whole class why i chose my answer so i tend to put 'e' if i think im going to have to explain in front of everyone, even if i know im correct. Otherwise i think they are very helpful"

"Sa great idea. Hope they weren't too expensive to make using so much ink!"

"Flashcard questions were awesome because if you didn't know the answer you could just say that, and then learn from other people's answers and the explanation/discussion after. Writing down the flashcard questions really helped me with quizzes and tests."

"I always felt stupid because I wasn't sure of my answer."

"Having to 'Explain your answer to someone near you' seems to be a waste of time that could be spent getting the correct answer explained by the instructor, and then another flash card question could be asked to reinforce what was just explained or address a new topic."

"The flashcards were so gangster they helped me a grip. Thanks for that"

"They're okay."

"I liked the flashcard questions because they were always on the tests/quizzes."

"Good stuff."

"I believe the flash card method is a really great way to develop a stable understanding of the material in class. If one is able to discuss and describe a concept to someone else it really does help. Listening to other students views on the material is very helpful too because it gives a person more ways to look at a concept."

"Not a big fan."

"like em!"

"I felt dumb often, unsure of my answer. but it was nice to know in the end what the right answer is."

"Keep using them."

"Like I've said before, flashcards are a wonderful source of learning from not only you but the students around us. Good learning experience option :]"

"Flashcards are a good experience but they may have been used too often."

"i like the colors"

"I like flashcards"

"They were helpful but I don't like saying 'I don't know'"

"final answers were vague at times, or neighbors explaining their answers confused me. a definitive answer at the end of each question would be best"

"I liked flashcards. Would definitely recommend them to other classes."

"there a great learning tool. if any thing i learned from them. they are a great way to make sure i am learning the material."

"they helped at times"

"the flashcards really helped"

"great job with flashcards"

"They broke up the lectures into absorbable chunks. I liked."

"Keep using them, because they work."

"You should keep using flashcards in class. Whenever I was confused about something we were learning in class, the flashcard questions would clarify it for me."

"It's a really helpful tool to use, and I think it would only benefit future Astronomy classes to come."

"Liked them"

"Give out candy"

"flashcards are cool"

"i liked the flashcard questions"

"i like them p-dawg"

"flashcards were pretty cool and a good way to converse with classmates to get the correct answer"

"i believed they were a great aspect to the class. it made me learn faster."

"they work good"

"some of the flashcard questions were a little confusing"

"They helped a great deal in learning the materials because it made you think."

"loved the use of flashcards I think they helped a lot... although most of the time I knew the answer but for the few I didn't know it helped a lot!!!"

`V. Answer the following statements which may or may not describe      your beliefs about the use of the online reading assignments in this class.V.1 I like working on the online reading assignments. 1. Strongly disagree      1 : *2. Disagree               8 : ********3. Neutral               28 : ****************************4. Agree                 40 : ****************************************  [3.7 +/- 0.9]5. Strongly agree        15 : ***************V.2 Online reading assignments helped me understand lectures better.1. Strongly disagree      2 : **2. Disagree              10 : **********3. Neutral               37 : *************************************  [3.4 +/- 0.9]4. Agree                 34 : **********************************5. Strongly agree        10 : **********V.3 I would recommend using online reading assignments in future semesters of this class.1. Strongly disagree      0 : 2. Disagree               3 : ***3. Neutral               19 : *******************4. Agree                 46 : **********************************************  [4.0 +/- 0.8]5. Strongly agree        25 : *************************V.4 I will avoid other classes using online reading assignments in future semesters. 1. Strongly disagree     31 : *******************************2. Disagree              46 : **********************************************  [1.9 +/- 3.3]3. Neutral               11 : ***********4. Agree                  4 : ****5. Strongly agree         0 : V.5 Online reading assignments were a positive experience.   1. Strongly disagree      0 : 2. Disagree               3 : ***3. Neutral               22 : **********************4. Agree                 45 : *********************************************  [3.9 +/- 0.8]5. Strongly agree        23 : ***********************V.6 Too much time outside of class was spent working on online reading assignments.   1. Strongly disagree     36 : ************************************2. Disagree              40 : ****************************************  [1.8 +/- 3.8]3. Neutral               14 : **************4. Agree                  3 : ***5. Strongly agree         0 : V.7 Too many online reading assignment questions were asked.1. Strongly disagree     29 : *****************************2. Disagree              48 : *******************************************  [1.9 +/- 3.0]3. Neutral               14 : **************4. Agree                  2 : **5. Strongly agree         0 :      V.8 Completing the online reading assignments was difficult.  1. Strongly disagree     33 : *********************************2. Disagree              40 : ****************************************  [1.9 +/- 3.5]3. Neutral               15 : ***************4. Agree                  5 : *****5. Strongly agree         0 : VI. (Optional.) Please type in any comments you may have regarding     the online reading assignments in Astronomy 210.`
The following are all of the student responses to this question, verbatim and unedited.
"the online reading assigments really didnt matter to me they werent hard"

"they too helped"

"The on-line format is easy to follow and allows for personal research of topics which can help to retain the information learned."

"=("

"Great way to see where the class is, I would recommend it to all teachers!"

"I think the readig assigments where great if you did not know a question you could look it up in your book."

"it was a good way for me to be prepared for the lectures the following class"

"keep them going"

"i liked the online reading assignments. knowing that it can only help my understanding and grade"

"Online reading assignments were easy points..."

"I like the online reading assignment. I especially like how we get credit even if we don't get the right answer =)"

"The little work required to do these were well worth the extra points."

"They were fun and easy but i dont think i got much education benefit out of them. except when you reffered back to them in lecture."

"reading assignments where a great way to get points!!!Only negative part was doing it. Sometimes I would literally forget to work on them. I know it's not you to blame, we do have five days to get on and spend ten min filling it out, but i did lose a few points becuase of that. So a suggestion for next semester... "

"Write in a calander when to get on and get into the habit of working on it every week."

"I think the questions should be all related to the following class' lecture; but, they're still awsome."

"none"

"Keep doing these as well"

"i think they were beneficial to my grade, and a good way of obtaining easy points."

"Nah"

"i like the fact that we can make a comment or ask a question at the end. also, its funny how we can answer a question and have the answer be wrong, but still get all the points. that is interesting. but thank you for that"

"They helped a little."

"they're good points"

"They were good. Made it so lectures would ring a bell from ORA"

"I liked that it didn't matter if you got the right or wrong answers and still received points for making the effort to complete the assignment."

"online reading assignments are crucial to success"

"like the extra points"

"they were a good way to get points for the class."

"I like the reading assignments because it helps build up points"

"I never could remember to do them in the beginning!"

"It was hard to remember to do the online reading assignments!"

"I really like the online reading assignments, they are a good preview of what will be happening next class"

"Theyre a banginnn way to get points. and they only take 2 min. super dope"

"Online reading assignments were great because they gave you a lot of points and were easy to do. It helps you to prepare for the lecture also."

"I thought they were a good source for a preview of what was coming up in the next class."

"Words"

"P dizzle these reading assignments straight were hood."

"it would be nice to be able to do the assignment the day of the class"

"The reading assignments implanted thoughts in my head that I would find the answers to during the lectures. They were very beneficial to me."

"I liked that they were easy points, I just didn't get a lot out of them."

"Way better then pen and paper homework! And easy points!"

"Hard to remember to do the before the deadline."

"The online reading assignments were great. There was not a lot of work, but it was very beneficial because they reflected exactly what was brought up at the next lecture. This is the only class that I did not feel overwhelmed by homework. Although, many of the concepts were overwhelming and there was a lot of material that was covered."

"I thought they helped."

"like em!"

"I liked them!"

"None."

"I think not many people put too much effort into them so the statistics didn't turn out very well, but otherwise they were helpful."

"The online reading assignemnts were a positive experience"

"I like that they were a chance to receive extra points."

"theyre funny stuff"

"They were a nice review and helped give some extra points"

"I wish they were always open right after class (doing it on the break this time) because I always try Then And Then forget"

"online reading assignments were awesome, they help you earn points as well as offer review or hints at what is to come in the class"

"I don't think too many people put too much effort into them so answers were always skewed for class results, but they started conversations and points of learning. Overall they were useful and helpful."

"there were helpful in the points and they got me thinking about the next week concepts"

"just have to remember to do them"

"keep doing them"

"i love it"

"They definitely didn't hurt anybody, but a lot of times I didn't put my full effort into it because of either time constraints on my part or because I was too lazy to get the book and look up the answer. Good preview of what was coming in the next lecture though."

"The only thing I would change about online reading assignments is having each question graded for correctness and not just completeness. It's not fair for students who actually try and study the material to get the same grade as the slackers who log on 5 minutes before it's due and put random answers in, just to get it done. Other than that though, the online reading assignments were helpful, and I recommend using them in future classes."

"Liked them"

"Keep it real!"

"online reading assignments are the besttt"

"they were nice"

"they were chill"

"none. the class went smooth and you told us exactly what you expected out of us. thank you"

"they are good way to boost up your point value if you're falling behind in class"

"They gave a little preview of what we were about to talk about, but I dont think it was as good as flash cards."

"my problem was accessing them or even remembering to do them I found myself multiple times forgetting till the last minute. Thanks for allowing us to do make up ones though it really helped!"

Previous post:

20100615

Education research: MPEX pre- and post-instruction results (Cuesta College, Spring Semester 2010)

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 CollegePhysics 205B Spring Semester 2010 section 31988San Luis Obispo, CA campus(N = 11, matched pairs,          excluding negative informed consent form responses)Percentage of favorable:unfavorable responses        Overall Indep.  Coher.  Concept Real.   Math    EffortInitial 62:17   47:15   64:20   49:22   89:02   58:18   71:15Final   58:22   47:15   58:18   49:25   89:05   58:22   58:31`
Historically this second-semester class had much higher favorable coherence and reality ratings (pre- and post-instruction) than previous first-semester classes, although caution is advised due to the extremely small number of students in this section.

Previous posts:

20100614

Education research: SATA results (Cuesta College, Spring Semester 2010)

Student attitudes were assessed using the Survey of Attitudes Towards Astronomy (SATA), a 34-question, five-point Likert scale questionnaire that measures four attitude subscales (Zeilik & Morris, 2003):
• Affect (positive student attitudes towards astronomy and science);
• Cognitive competence (students' self-assessment of their astronomy/science knowledge and skills);
• Difficulty (reverse-coded such that high-difficulty corresponds to a rating of 1, low-difficulty assessment of astronomy/science corresponds to a rating of 5);
• Value (students' assessment of the usefulness, relevance, and worth of astronomy/science in personal and professional life).
The SATA was administered as a pre-test on the first day of class, and as a post-test on the last day of class.
`Cuesta CollegeAstronomy 210 Spring Semester 2010 sections 30674, 30676(N = 107, matched pairs only,          excluding negative informed consent form responses)        Affect       Cogn. Comp.  Difficulty   ValueInitial 3.8 +/- 0.5  3.6 +/- 0.5  3.7 +/- 0.5  2.7 +/- 0.4Final   3.8 +/- 0.6  3.6 +/- 0.6  3.6 +/- 0.5  2.9 +/- 0.5`
Little or no difference from pre- to post-instruction, and also comparable to previous semesters' results.

References, and more detailed discussion on previous semesters' results:

20100613

Education research: D-Survey pre- and post-instruction results (Cuesta College, Spring Semester 2010)

Student demographic data is collected using a demographic survey (D-Survey) administered to Astronomy 210 (one-semester introductory astronomy) students at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA during the first week and last week of instruction, at both the main San Luis Obispo campus and the North County campus at Paso Robles.

The results from the pre-instruction demographic questions follow below. Only matched-pair results are shown, for students who were eventually able to take the post-instruction D-Survey in the last week of instruction.
`Cuesta CollegeDemographic Survey (D-Survey)Pre-instruction question resultsAstronomy 210L Spring Semester 2009 sections 30674, 30676(N = 107, matched pairs only,         excluding negative informed consent form responses)1. What is your gender? (A) Female.  [40](B) Male.    [67]2. What is your age?(A) 0-20 years old.     [74](B) 21-23 years old.    [23](C) 24-30 years old.    [ 8](D) 31 or older.        [ 2] (E) Decline to answer.  [ 0]3. What is your college major (or current area of interest if undecided)?(A) Business.                                  [18](B) Education.                                 [15](C) Humanities, Social Sciences, or the Arts.  [20](D) Science, Engineering, or Architecture.     [10](E) Other.                                     [43] 4. Have you previously taken an astronomy course? (A) Yes.  [ 8](B) No.   [99]5. Are you currently taking astronomy lab during this semester? (A) Yes.  [34](B) No.   [73]6. How many college science courses are you taking during this semester other than astronomy lecture or astronomy lab?(A) None.  [77](B) 1.     [14](C) 2.     [ 8](D) 3.     [ 5](E) 4+.    [ 3]7. Which of these college math classes are you taking during this semester?  Choose as many classes that apply.  (A) Algebra.       [22](B) Trigonometry.  [ 6](C) Geometry.      [ 3](D) Pre-calculus.  [ 8](E) Calculus.      [ 3](F) Statistics.    [ 9]8. How good at math are you?(A) Very poor.  [ 3](B) Poor.       [ 8](C) Average.    [53](D) Good.       [28](E) Very good.  [15]9. How good at science are you?(A) Very poor.  [ 0](B) Poor.       [ 2](C) Average.    [64](D) Good.       [32](E) Very good.  [ 9]10. Which best describes the level of difficulty you expect from this course?(A) Extremely difficult for me.  [ 2](B) Difficult for me.            [26](C) Unsure.                      [58](D) Easy for me.                 [19](E) Very easy for me.            [ 2]11. How many college science courses have you completed prior to taking this course? (A) None.  [67](B) 1.     [17](C) 2.     [16](D) 3.     [ 1](E) 4+.    [ 5]12. Which of these college math classes have you completed prior to taking this course?  Choose as many classes that apply.  (A) Algebra.       [77](B) Trigonometry.  [19](C) Geometry.      [21](D) Pre-calculus.  [29](E) Calculus.      [15](F) Statistics.    [18]=====Cuesta CollegeDemographic Survey (D-Survey)Post-instruction question resultsAstronomy 210L Spring Semester 2009 sections 30674, 30676(N = 107, matched pairs only,         excluding negative informed consent form responses)8. How good at math are you?(A) Very poor.  [ 5](B) Poor.       [ 9](C) Average.    [46](D) Good.       [34](E) Very good.  [13]Pre-instruction: 3.4 +/- 0.9Post-instruction: 3.4 +/- 1.0Student t-test p = 0.83 (t = 0.217, sd = 0.945, dof = 212)Class-wise <g> = 09. How good at science are you?(A) Very poor.  [ 0](B) Poor.       [ 8](C) Average.    [50](D) Good.       [44](E) Very good.  [ 5]Pre-instruction: 3.5 +/- 0.7Post-instruction: 3.4 +/- 0.8Student t-test p = 0.84 (t = 0.198, sd = 0.689, dof = 212)Class-wise <g> = -0.0110. Which best describes the level of difficulty you experienced from this course?(A) Extremely difficult for me.  [ 2](B) Difficult for me.            [44](C) Unsure.                      [22](D) Easy for me.                 [32](E) Very easy for me.            [ 7]Pre-instruction: 2.9 +/- 0.8Post-instruction: 3.0 +/- 1.0Student t-test p = 0.71 (t = -0.379, sd = 0.902, dof = 212)Class-wise <g> = 0.0211. How many college science courses do you expect to take after taking this course? (A) None.  [24](B) 1.     [33](C) 2.     [30](D) 3.     [ 7](E) 4+.    [13]12. Which of these college math classes do you expect to takeafter taking this course?  Choose as many classes that apply.  (A) Algebra.       [16](B) Trigonometry.  [16](C) Geometry.      [11](D) Pre-calculus.  [19](E) Calculus.      [26](F) Statistics.    [28]13. Are you planning on taking astronomy lab sometime after this semester? (A) Yes.              [ 9](B) No.               [70](C) Undecided/maybe.  [28]`

No significant shifts nor differences in student attitudes in self-efficacy attitudes towards math and science. However, while the perceived difficulty of the course did not change, the distribution of responses widened.

Previous post:

20100612

Astronomy final exam question: IAU classification of Pluto and asteroids

Astronomy 210 Final Exam, Spring Semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

[20 points.] According to the "Friends of Pluto," Pluto has been downgraded to an asteroid. Explain why Pluto and asteroids are each placed in different categories under the International Astronomical Union classification scheme.

(Photo credit: harlanm, "Eyewitless News: Save Pluto" contest, http://www.worth1000.com/emailthis.asp?entry=312604).

• p = 20/20:
Correct. Asteroids satisfy only the first IAU planetary requirement --that they orbit the sun--and because of their irregular shape, and their shared, non-dominating orbits, are classified as solar system debris. Pluto satisifes the first IAU requirement as well as the second (being rounded in shape), but because it does not dominate its orbit, is classified as a dwarf planet.
• r = 16/20:
Nearly correct (explanation weak, unclear or only nearly complete); includes extraneous/tangential information; or has minor errors.
• t = 12/20:
Contains right ideas, but discussion is unclear/incomplete or contains major errors. Problematic discussion, but at least understands IAU classification scheme. May discuss how asteroids and Pluto are different from the planet category, and/or placing them in the same non-planet category.
• v = 8/20:
Limited relevant discussion of supporting evidence of at least some merit, but in an inconsistent or unclear manner. Only partial understanding of IAU requirements.
• x = 4/20:
Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit. Discussion of criteria unrelated to the IAU requirements.
• y = 2/20:
Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
• z = 0/20:
Blank.
Section 30674
p: 18 students
r: 1 student
t: 13 students
v: 7 students
x: 0 students
y: 1 student
z: 0 students

Section 30676
p: 23 students
r: 3 students
t: 15 students
v: 9 students
x: 14 students
y: 4 students
z: 0 students

A sample "p" response (from student 7272):

Another sample "p" response (from student 2569):

A terse sample "p" response (from student 1415):

A sample "p" response (from student 7615), insulting the intelligence of asteroids:

A sample "p" response (from student 1105), with a sad Pluto:

A sample "v" response (from student 1825), placing Pluto in the asteroid belt:

A sample "x" response (from student 4000):

A sample "y" response (from student 8282), with a commonly-held sentiment: