Online reading assignment question: interesting, confusing, and advice de-brief

Astronomy 210, Fall 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.
"The planets, because we can see them"

"I liked learning about space expansion over space explosion. It's a bizarre concept, to think of space getting farther away the farther you go out. And more bizarre, is that I was comfortable with the concept. It's interesting. :)"

"Learning about the formation of planets and stars."

"I think the most interesting aspect was learning about look back times and learning the theories that are out there about finite space."

"The most interesting part of this course for me was learning about the planets. I think it is fun to learn about how different the planets are and what caused them to be so different."

"black holes. they were interesting just as a subject in general. wrapping my head around stuff like taht is fun."

"I cannot pinpoint a specific thing that was the most interesting seeing as I felt it was all quite interesting."

"I felt that the star wheel was very interesting because I can continue to use it after the course."

"It was all interesting, but I liked the 'shallower' aspects of it (names of stars/constellations, locations in the sky, phases of the moon, etc) the most."

"I liked learning about the planets, they are not as complicated as stars and galaxies at least from what we've learned so far."

"I think the most interesting thing we covered was the constellations because now i can go outside and use my star wheel and point them out"

"I loved watching people's minds explode when introduced to the scale of the universe. Interesting human reaction."

"I was really intrigued by many aspects of this class. However the thing I found most interesting would probably have been the ability to talk about whats required from life on other planets and how we're looking for it in current times."

"The most interesting thing in this course was learning about how earth and other planets work, and the different types of stars and their life."

"if we were alone or not was a very interesting topic because i always thought it would be cool to be other life out there"

"The way time works as you go farther out was pretty trippy in a really interesting way"

"Hmmmm. There was a lot of really interesting stuff, I liked learning about star formation and planet geology."

"The Jovian planets I would was the most interesting to me because they are in our Milky Way so it was nice to learn about them."

"There were many areas that were interesting to me. I think the most interesting was the process stars go through from formation to death. It is interesting to know that we can actually see some of this process - such as in the nebulas."

"I still really loved talking about the lunar cycles and eclipses. I've always been fasinated by the moon"

"How the CO2 passes through our atmosphere. It was somthing that surprised me."

"The most interesting aspect for me was the way class was conducted. I have never been in a science class where I was in a group to do things, and I was never able to get immediate feedback from questions like I did with the flashcard questions."

"planetary formation because i never knew that"

"The most interesting thing... was that you wanted to be referred to as P Dog! really?"

"moon phase because its odd"

"I think one of the most interesting aspects of this course was learning about the moon phases/eclipses/etc. because i feel that those are subjects i can use every night! :)"

"I really like the chapter about star formation, black-holes galaxies etc. It's amazin how little we know!"

"Constelations are the most interesting aspect of this course although we hardly did anything with them."

"The best would be the big bang just learning how things got here and all that jazz!!!"

"I loved using the star wheels. It's something that everyone could maybe use someday if the were lost."

"Learning about the Big Bang theory and about the expansion of outer space. That is really cool stuff to think about."

"Learning about the stars at the beginning of class and using our star wheels. It was really cool being able to find stars with it."

"I loved learning about black holes. They are so crazy to think about and I love just thinking about those things."

"The most interesting part of this course to me was when we were working with the constellations. I wish we were able to focus a little more on them, considering we see them every night in the night sky. I would love to be able to identify them on the spot a little easier."

"Learning where you came from and how your enviroment was formed should be a goal for any human being"

"Talking about life on other plantes. Im really curious about finding life somewhere else, intelligent or otherwise."

"the most interesting aspect to me was learning about how the planets formed"

"using flashcard questions, i've never done that in a class before."

"Nebulas are amazing"

"Space expansion. The idea blew my mind"

"I really liked stuff to do with the starts and what we know about them based just off of observation. Probably because I like to look at the stars at night."

"Learning about the terrestrial planets and about the differences and changes between Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. This was personally interesting because i was grasping the concepts well and relating them back to what i know about, cores and Earth's activity."

"the history of astronomy, because it is interesting to know what people thought and believed in in the past and how the astronomy that we know came to be."

"Learning about moon phases! I will remember it forever"

"The black holes and white dwarfs and how one planet takes energy from surrounding objects is very interesting."

"Moon phases. I am not sure why, but being able to point to the moon and tell someone it was waxing gibbous was very empowering."

"I was very interested in black holes because it was the one astronomy subject that i was curious about before I took the course."

"moon phases. good to know"

"The topic that interested me the most was probably the big bang theory because it offers an explanation for how our universe was created"

"I liked learning about the planets."

"I thought this course would be more interesting for me personally, but i was expecting something else. The information was good to know and i liked the class none the less"

"supernovas, those were the most interesting because of its nature and how it all occurs and reoccurs and gives off a beautiful color."

"That's definitely a difficult one. I very much enjoyed the moon phases, because the moon is something that is very important to the human understanding of time. I also liked learning the star constellations, because as a history major that studies ancient civilizations, I feel like it's necessary to know the constellations that the ancients studied. I also liked the beginning of the universe theories, because the theories brought up a lot of questions for me."

"the big bang topic was most interesting to me because it could of happened!"

"the most interesting aspect of this class is the birth and death of stars, it was just the coolest!!"

"The most interesting things about this course is how old everything is and how obtained the information from it."

"Well I liked learning about black holes, stars, nebulae, different effects, the planets in general. It's interesting because I like learning about space and why things are the way they are. Also, it's interesting to learn about the newest theories that we have about space like what's on the planets, what they're composed of, making new discoveries."

"i loved learning about black holes. and anything that put into perspective just how big the universe really is"

"i really liked learning about black holes because i have always had a interest in them."

"the most interesting aspect to the course I thought was discussing how the universe is ever expanding and how there is no center"

"the big bang and rapid expansion of the early universe. i found it interesting because it is the ultimate creation story."


"I find the Big Bang and stars in general to be the most interesting parts of this course because it's fun to learn about where it began and how the universe is changing as well as what stars really are and what they do."

"The sun, It was fun getting to know how our sun works and functions. Especially since our sun is essential for life here on earth."

"The big bang section of the class was the most interesting to me. To see how the known universe originated and expanded was fascinating."

"The most interesting thing this course was astronomy as a whole. When I signed up for this class I had no clue what I was getting into, but now I am proud to say I have learned a lot about astronomy."

"The most interesting aspect of this course was learning about the planets in general"

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.
"galaxies, cause we can't see them and we can't see inside of them"

"Honestly, I still cant tellyou that much about halos and disks and whatnot. I know halo's are metal poor... and i remember that because i think of like and angelic halo, and how they float over the persons head. Now, if it was metal rich, it'd be too heavy to float there, right? And the disks are metal rich, like a metal washer. A metal round disk. :) Thats all i know about halos and disks, but i got a perfect score on an essay question about them. Go figure, haha."

"Some of the aspects of the formation of the universe. Some of the concepts are a little more difficult to wrap one's head around."

"Same thing as above, interesting and very confusing at the same time."

"I think the most confusing part of this course was the moon phases. I just had a hard time trying to figure out when the moon was rising at a certain time in a specific phase."

"mmm nothing was too difficult."

"Anything that involved math."

"Prograde, retrograde and star masses were confusing because I just couldn't remember the information right"

"Judging by my scores on my quizzes, I think it was mostly telescope-related, and on the history of the Milky Way Galaxy. I can only guess that I was thrown off by the terminology and their corresponding meanings."

"The stars were the most confusing thing to learn about, only because there was so much information about them."

"The most confusing aspect was galaxies. I couldn't figure out the space-time thing."

"Layers o the sun. How can we know without being there to see?"

"The one that gave me the most trouble was the idea that all the galaxies have redshifts proportional to their distance, the farther away, the faster they move away."

"The most confusing was light spectrum's."

"pdog explain it very well so most of the stuff wasnt confusing at all"

"Retro grade, for some reason it just didn't click"

"Black holes. they don't make any sense, because they are compressed waaaaaay past degenerate matter."

"The most confusing for me was the telescopes, for some reason i couldn't grasp the concept."

"The more confusing or difficult parts dealt with the chemistry composition of planets and stars."

"The most confusing part of this course was the fact that our universe doesn't have an edge...but time does. it's just trippy thinking about it"

"planets lives"

"Honestly, I can't think of anything that was confusing. I am sure there was some things, but I don't know what they were."

"moon phases because it was memorization"

"The most confusing and frustrating part of this course was that I felt like I wasn't really taught by my neighbor. Flash card procedure is awful and a waste of time."


"I can't think of the MOST confusing aspect... some subjects we learned were a little harder to grasp at first i suppose, but i believe that for the most part astronomy is not a terribly complicated subject..."

"Figuring out out how to do the reading assignments was a little confusing for me in the beginning."

"The most confusing aspect of this course is the part where Pluto isn't a planet, because we both know it is man."

"The most confusing would be the can't think of the name of it right now but it was just a few weeks ago"

"A lot of things, but it was still interesting :)"

"The most confusing part was also the Big Bang theory and the questions of space that we have theories for but not definite answers."

"Microscopes, I just simply didn't understand the focal length and all that."

"I am not much of a physics or chemist kind of person, but it wasn't too challenging for me."

"Anything to do with black body radiation and emissions and all that jazz. I start to get lost there...."

"none of it was confusing it all makes sense to me"

"Where certain planets are in the sky and whether you can see them. I'd get west and east mixed up on the picture a lot."

"the most confusing was the moon phases"

"learning about the moons was the most confusing aspect because it took me awhile to get the hang of it"

"finding the distance of planets and stars"

"black holes. i cannot get over the guy that gets sucked in and all the details of what we see, what happens, and whzat if would feel like"

"Black holes really tripped me out, but I think those are a hard idea to grasp for anyone."

"The most confusing aspect was learning the Big Bang Theory. I found it confusing because i felt it was a lot to remember in one class session. I wish we went over flashcard questions pertaining to the different parts of the theory at the end of class."

"lunar phases-- just frustrating"

"Understanding Newton's laws"

"Moon phases are still really hard to follow, there is just a lot to remember."

"Every. Single. Thing."

"I was very confused at the beginning of the course when we were using star wheels."

"the star map it's hard to read"

"I found anything involving the electromagnetic spectrum to be very confusing, not sure why"

"The moon phases were the most confusing part of the class."

"I had a hard time with your quizzes"

"horizons on the starwheel, it was weird having to find a constellation on a certain date at a certain time."

"Quantum leaps, along with all of their protons, electrons, neutrons, etc. The absorption and emission I still find confusing, and don't entirely understand what it is or how it works."

"the mass was difficult for me to learn because i had missed class and feel if i could have gone i would understand it better"

"moon phases and retrograde because it was stupid!"

"almost everything i thought was confusing. I would think that I understood something, but really i didn't."

"Nothing comes to mind that was particularly confusing."

"some things about the sun and spectrums were confusing as well as moonphases."

"i think the most confusing topic was dark matter, we didn't talk about it very much and it was really confusing."

"there where many different aspects that I found confusing in the course but I thought that generally the most confusing subjects where the one's associated with midterm 2"

"moon phases, it was boring"

"lifetime of stars for some reason i just couldnt remember"

"The section with the miscalculated theories with the astronomers was confusing to me because I couldn't clearly identify what was being changed."

"Positioning of stars and constellations and perspective times. I had problems using the starwheel and knowing which way it should be faced."

"For some reason I was confused by planetary orbits and their locations as seen from an observer in San Luis Obispo in the night sky."

"Astronomy is hard to understand! Space is hugeeee."

"There were a lot of confusing aspects about this course... mainly deciding which stars can live the longest, etc."

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.
"study for the quizzes and exams"

"Study, attend class, and practice the previous sem's quizzes and exams."

"Make sure to review previous semester quizzes and flashcard questions. Also, make sure to ask questions if you don't understand something."

"READ the text book, REVIEW in class activities before tests/quizzes, and LOOK OVER old quizzes/tests"

"Make sure that you print out the class activities and bring them to class so you can get the answers to study with later. Also go over the quizes from past semesters to get an idea of what your quizes will be like. Be sure to read!"


"Get as many points as you can to do well in this class. Make sure to study for quizzes and midterms."

"Attend every class and bring the flashcard questions."

"Read the textbook, and take advantage of the flashcard questions and archived quizzes that are provided for you!"

"I would say read the book, and print out the in class activities and fill them out in class."

"As long as you do all the reading assignments and keep old quizes to study from then you'll be good."

"Do all of the online reading assignments."

"Study past quizzes."

"Study in class activities!!!!"

"do hwk, activity and study well for test an they'll do great"

"Use all the online support"

"Study old quizzes, do every ORA [N.b.: online reading assignment, i.e., reading quiz], and all extra credit."

"I highly recommend completing the reading assignments they will help you in the end and it is a very enjoyable class to take."

"Pay attention in lecture, take good notes, and read the book."

"Take good notes"


"Read the book, study for the quizzes and tests, do anything to get points you can like you would in any other class, but especially, participate in class, and answer the flashcard questions with the answer you truely think is correct, don't take the easy way out and choose the 'I'm lost and I don't know how to answer this,' Actually make the effort to learn the material."

"The Early Bird May Catch the Worm, but the Second Mouse Gets the Cheese"

"Study with partners, read the chapters, and get as many points as possible. Don't count on the teacher."

"its pretty rope a dope!"

"Pay attention during the flashcard quizzes and take them seriously. Read your book, especially for confusing subjects that you don't understand fully."

"Read the book, study the quizzes before midterms, and do all the reading assignments. Doing so, there will be no proble."

"Do you online reading (easy points) and show up for all of the classes to be involved in the group activities (easy points). Also read the book or you may get lost fairly quickly."

"Just make sure u study"

"Review the QUIZZES and IN CLASS activities!! then you're set :)"

"Show up for class and do online reading assignments."

"Study the flashcards, and looking at previous test also helps a lot."

"Read, study, and come to every lecture."

"PAY ATTENTION. And the flashcards come in handy every now and then. Then ask questions. Don't be a baby. Just ask."

"just be open minded and take the information in for what it is and it will fall into place, science has an order"

"Dont skip any lectures and study all the old quizzes and tests. they are a tremendous help."

"Read the book!!"

"Do all the reading assignments. Use the online review as a tool to study for the quizs."

"work hard at first so its a breeze latter"

"use the old quizzes to study"

"Pay attention in class and you got it."

"You need to do all the online reading assignments and study old quizzes and flashcards to succeed in this class. Also attend class."

"Listen to the instructor, attend class, do flashcard questions, don't forget the extra credit, you can help your grade a lot with those."

"Study all the old quizzes, read, and participate!"

"Do flashcard questions and old quizes for studying, they will help get ready for the test and quizes."

"Read. Read some more. And then read again. Did I mention reading?"

"coming to class is the most important aspect, and making sure to do all the online readings and in class worksheets because those points really add up."

"make sure you do the practice quizes"

"In order to be successful in astronomy, find ways to apply what you are learning in real life. Use the things that we learn about what is going on in the universe by putting them in a perspective that interests you."

"READ! And ask for help! Make a study group."


"upgrade heavy weapons and save often"

"Study the old questions, as well as the flashcard questions. They help a lot, and if you can't manage to read the entire book, at least check out the purple two-page sections in each chapter."

"just go to class!"

"do ALL the online assignments/extra credit, go to everyclass,study flashcard questions."

"Do all of the work you can possible."

"Study the practice quizzes."

"go to class. do the reading and just pay attention"

"go to every class. not only are the in class activities helpful for your grade, but p-dog teaches you everything you need to know for the tests."

"Really pay attention and focus on the in class activities because they become short answer responses on the midterms and are worth 20 points each."

"pay attention"

"write down flash card questions for they could be on quizzes/ midterms/ final"

"Do actually read P-dog's blog! It helps explain some flashcard questions!"

"Online reading assignments, easy to forget but keep up on them. Review old tests and the tests posted from previous semesters. Brush up on flashcard questions before tests and you'll do great."

"Don't miss in class activities and reading assignments as the points for these really add up. Also, take all of the practice quizes and do flashcard questions and get feedback by emailing the instructor."

"Do practice quiz's! I wish I would have started doing them on the first quiz!"

"Never miss class, do all your online reading assignments, and study."

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