20100330

Education research: partial credit for multiple-choice questions (PCMC) student attitudes (Spring semester 2010)

Starting Fall semester 2008 and continuing through Spring semester 2010, Cuesta College students taking Astronomy 210 (introductory astronomy) at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA have piloted the use of partial credit for multiple-choice (PCMC) questions.

During the ninth week of instruction (after taking four multiple-choice question quizzes, and a midterm with multiple-choice questions and short-answer/essay questions), students were given the opportunity to evaluate PCMC in an online "Partial Credit for Multiple-Choice (PCMC) Survey" hosted by SurveyMonkey.com.

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 and III were randomly scrambled for each student.
Partial Credit for Multiple-Choice Survey
Cuesta College
Astronomy 210 Spring Semester 2010 sections 30674, 30676
(N = 76)

I. In order to receive credit for completing this survey,
first enter your first and last name below:
____


II. Recall that for this semester there is PCMC = "partial
credit for multiple choice," where you can get partial
credit even after circling a wrong answer, if you have
also eliminated an incorrect answer by marking it with
an "x."
Answer the following statements which may or may not
describe your beliefs about PCMC in this class.
Because of PCMC...

II.1 ...I read questions more carefully.
1. Strongly disagree 1 : *
2. Disagree 4 : ****
3. Neutral 12 : ************
4. Agree 35 : *********************************** [4.0 +/- 0.9]
5. Strongly agree 23 : ***********************

II.2 ...I spend more time taking a test.
1. Strongly disagree 2 : **
2. Disagree 20 : ********************
3. Neutral 20 : ******************** [3.3 +/- 1.1]
4. Agree 20 : ********************
5. Strongly agree 14 : ********

II.3 ...I feel more confident about circling a correct choice.
1. Strongly disagree 1 : *
2. Disagree 6 : ******
3. Neutral 17 : *****************
4. Agree 36 : ************************************ [3.8 +/- 1.9]
5. Strongly agree 14 : **************

II.4 ...I look for incorrect choices before circling a correct choice.
1. Strongly disagree 3 : ***
2. Disagree 12 : ************
3. Neutral 8 : ********
4. Agree 36 : ************************************ [3.7 +/- 1.1]
5. Strongly agree 17 : *****************

III. Answer the following statements which may or may not describe
your beliefs about PCMC in this class.

III.1 PCMC helped me answer test questions better.
1. Strongly disagree 0 :
2. Disagree 6 : ******
3. Neutral 23 : ***********************
4. Agree 34 : ********************************** [3.7 +/- 0.8]
5. Strongly agree 11 : ***********

III.2 I would recommend using PCMC in future semesters of this class.
1. Strongly disagree 1 : *
2. Disagree 1 : *
3. Neutral 4 : ****
4. Agree 35 : *********************************** [4.3 +/- 0.8]
5. Strongly agree 35 : ***********************************

III.3 Having PCMC a positive experience.
1. Strongly disagree 0 :
2. Disagree 1 : *
3. Neutral 11 : ***********
4. Agree 40 : **************************************** [4.1 +/- 0.7]
5. Strongly agree 24 : ************************

III.4 Using PCMC was difficult.
1. Strongly disagree 38 : ************************************* [1.6 +/- 4.4]
2. Disagree 30 : ******************************
3. Neutral 4 : ****
4. Agree 2 : **
5. Strongly agree 0 :

III.5 I would identify incorrect choices even without PCMC.
1. Strongly disagree 4 : ****
2. Disagree 7 : *******
3. Neutral 18 : ******************
4. Agree 36 : ************************************ [3.5 +/- 1.1]
5. Strongly agree 10 : **********

IV. (Optional.) Please type in any comments you may have regarding
the use of PCMC in this class.
The following are all of the student responses to this question, verbatim and unedited.
"I LIke it Becouse it gives u a better chance to get the correct answer becouse eliminate a couple of the wrong answers."

"The main reason that it is helpful to me is because the reward of partial credit forces me to slow down and work on eliminating before looking for the right answer. Having this incentive I believe actually increases the number of correct answers because of the incentive for students to reason through all of the answers."

"it works. do what you do good sir"

"It's a good method of testing that urges students to read and understand by process of elimination the content of a question by proof."

"Stops you from just circle the first answer u see. i would say it is a good thing"

"PCMC helps me get affitional points inour test."

"The only thing that I dont like about partial credit multiple choice is that we are only allowed to cross out one answer. I usually mark off all of the choices I know are wrong, so it's a little harder to just mark off one."

"PMCS rocks!"

"im just still not use to putting an X yet.."

"having PCMC makes it a lot easier for me to be ready to take the tests"

"At first it was a little hard to understand exactly how to use PCMC, I wasn't sure if I had to have a correct answer circled or not to get the PC, which hurt my grade a bit, but I quickly figured it out and benefitted from it. I think it can only boost one's grade if they understand how to use it."

"I think its great becasue even if you dont know the correct answer to thegiven question, at least you can earn some credit by no which answer is not correct. :)"

"Half credit on missed questions is better than nothing."

"I love the PCMC option, it's very helpful."

"I like being able to get partial credit
I think the use of PCMC is a good tool for eliminating an incorrect answer, which can give you a small amount of points for at least identifying one that was wrong."

"I believe that PCMC is a good way to buffer your grade if you get the initial question wrong. Usually I can figure out which answer is the definite wrong one. Good job PDogg"

"I really like the use of PCMC."

"its a good system in identifying the correct answer by removing the wrong one"

"It helped me feel like I had a greater understanding of the subject when I could identify a wrong answer even when I didn't know the correct one for sure."

"i think that we should be able to iliminate all the wrong choices we know for sure and get extra partial credit instead of just one"

"This is the first time I have seen an instructor use the PCMC system. I like it. You have the opportunity to get partial credit rathor than getting no credit at all. You have more hope when taking a test. Please keep this system going."

"I think that is helps to actually be able to mark off answers that you know are incorrect and in turn be able to get partial credit for it which is great!"

"i enjoy it. its enjoyable"

"I am glad that even if we don't know the right answer we may know the wrong one and get points on that alone."

"Great idea!"

"I like it, it makes you really read over the question and narrow down choices."

"That was legit"

"PCMC's great"

"I thought it was a good way to get some points."

"I like the practice, even if I didn't receive partial credit I like the physical act of crossing out the wrong answer. I think it is a good confidence booster."

"Gives you points for knowing what is wrong and not just for what is right
In multiple choice tests identifying incorrect answers is a standard tactic to maximizing test results, especially if you don't know your stuff. I've been using this tactic for over 45 years. It works! Adding a half point for selecting a wrong answer is not a big deal for me. But it might encourge some to use this tactic more often."

"Good way to get points"

"Sometimes i think i cross out a wrong answer and it's the right answer which sucks"

"This is the first time I have seen partial credit multiple choice, and I am 100% in favor of it. It helps me identify correct answers more efficiently and get better grades on the tests. :D"

"I like being able to get credit for knowing what the wrong answers are on it seems fair. I would suggest you keep using the PCMC in the future."

"I think it a much more efficient way of testing because it makes taking tests not as stressful because it is always possible to still earn some points."

"I think it's a smart idea and I've never seen it before. I would definitely recommend it for other teachers and future classes. I like it because sometimes you may not know what the right answer is but you know what it isn't."

"I think PCMC is a very useful, keep using it. It can't hurt us in, so i like it"

"Its legit :)"

"I like this because sometimes you know that certain answers are not correct but you might not be positive about what one is correct. This way, you can still get a little bit of credit for knowing a little opposed to not getting any credit. I like the PCMC method a lot and strongly suggest keeping it."

"SHIBBY!!!"

"It helps a lot. Like it. Its sweet. Its fun. I love PCMC."

"I like it a lot but sometimes it makes me nervous because essentially it is two chances to be right, but it is also two spots where I can make the wrong choice (making me feel twice as wrong )"

"This is really helpful for concepts that I don't fully understand
Loves it."

"its a good system and i believe that more teachers should follow this practice"

"I like it but at the same time it is hard because i get confused on which isnt the correct answer and spend more time on that than the right answer."

"I love it"

"I like it because if I feel unsure about an answer, at least I feel that I have bettered my chances by eliminating an answer for each problem, and at least can fall back on the fact that at least I will get partial credit. It does make me read questions more thoroughly and take my time."

"love it!"

"Really like it overall, but feel like more questions would be better and less points for each question."

"It makes me feel much more confident about my test scores. Its a brilliant Idea!"

"Having PCMC in class allowed me to be more relaxed too when taking a quiz or exam, mostly because I had the comfort of knowing that even if I answered a question incorrectly, I could still get partial credit for crossing out the wrong answer."

"PCMC is probably a good thing for people that aren't the great test takers, those who second and triple guess themselves. Generally, I look at all or most of the answers anyway; or I use elimination to select an answer."

"i like"

"i think they are great"

"I think it's a great incentive to eliminate answers."

"i think its good because it shows you that even if we dont know the correct answer, we at least are not completely stupid and we at least know what its not"

"It really helps to narrow down your choices and makes it much more clear and understandable."

"It helped me a lot when it came to answers i didint know"

"I think that PCMC is great it shows how much people have learned, it tests them so that if they were only partly listening they would get credit"


Previous posts:

20100329

Online reading assignment question: helpful/unhelpful Midterm 1 astronomy study tips

Astronomy 210 Reading Assignment 7, 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.

Describe something notable that either helped or did not help with studying for this midterm. Selected comments may be discussed in class. (Graded for completion.)

The following are all of the student responses to this question, verbatim and unedited.
"the practice quiz and test that yopu post online"

"I looked at the diagram of the telescopes in our text book and it gave me enough information to get the answers correct on the midterm"

"I'm pretty sure I didn't study."

"I looked over my past three quizzes. Many of the questions that i answered wrong on the quizzes were on the midterm, so i looked over and fixed the answers."

"Studying the past quizzes really helped out! I would encourage everyone to do it."

"studying old quizzes helped, but it would be nice if the correct answers were put on our actual quiz."

"i wished we would have been able to go into it further instead of speeding through it."

"the topics we needed to study was very vag soo like i study like 5 hours and i fail it badly"

"Using flashcards really helps, and the practice quizzes from the website are super!"

"What helped were all the in class activities."

"going through the previous midterms and getting those down really helped"

"I reviewed each previous quiz (with the right answers and without the right answers) over and over."

"Each time I reviewed I learned something new. I tried to imagine the question in a different way, as if it asked differen aspects of the material it covered..."

"being able to use our quizzes helped exponentially"

"I took all the old previous midterms and and previous semester quizes and they didnt help much at all. Ths previous quizes that we had this semester were very closely related to this midterm... for the eassay questions looking at some of the the examples on P-dogs blog helped, but i think i would have been better off if i just studied the4 first three quizes we had earlier this semester."

"I thought I had sone great when taking the mid term. I reviewed off my previous test and tried to look at my book. Sadly I was terribly disappointed when i got my test."

"It was somewhat comprehensive, thus making the midterm straightforward."

"reviewing the in-class activities"

"not studying"

"The reviewing of flashcard questions and past quizzes helped me grasp the material more, as well as the selected questions posted on P-dog's blog."

"Something that helped me in the midterm was studying the previous midterm question online. (The short answer questions)"

"Studying prior midterms helped out a lot."

"Working in groups is really helpful. it's nice to get input from classmates."

"flashcard questions, going over my old quizes. studying with a friend!"

"Flashcard questions."

"surprisingly, the book didn't offer a whole lot of help for some things! it was very short on some subjects"

"The old quizzes helped a lot, i just didn't study for the short answers."

"The Flash card questions"

"the graphs... definitely"

"I found the flashcard questions most helpful. It helped me process what I had just learned and cemented ideas in my mind before leaving class."

"going over past tests and notes"

"Review time"

"study previous midterm quizzes provided"

"One thing that helped me tremendously on the exam was doing the practice quizzes and studying the in-class assignments."

"I think that the most helpful thing to study from was the Midterm 1 Flashcard Questions."

"You blog actually helped alot. I was able to look up answers to questions i didnt understand because you have the reason why the answer is what it is posted on your blog."

"having the old midterm questions helped."

"he online quiz goals"

"the old midterms helped alot, but i wish maybe we had a study guide worksheet online reading assignment or something."

"STUDY GROUP. OLD QUIZZES. FLASH CARD REVIEW ?s"

"the quizzes from previous semesters FO SHO"

"drawing eclipses helped me"

"Being able to access in class information at home helped."

"The list you gave us on the course website definitely helped me narrow down what was important to study."

"The past exams and the flashcards questions really helped me with this midterm."

"Practice tests/quizzes are the way to go."

"Having a quiz the week before really pysched me out."

"Having the previous midterms available."

"Do the previous midterms was good pratice."

"Partying in Vegas was NOT helpful to studying for this midterm."

"Looking at previous midterm exams helped me study a lot"

"The in class activities helped with the midterm"

"in-class activity helped."

"What really helped was the ability to work it out in the practice quizzes. Also, looking back through my lecture notes especially from copying the diagram that Dr. Len (I cannot say Pdog sorry feels too weird), drew regarding the Earth and the little snowboarder man with the position of east and west following him as he was displayed on the Northern Hemisphere, Eastern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere and Western Hemisphere."

"The online studying for the essay part helped me."

"[Student name redacted]"
"the questions you had online helped."

"Being able to access in class information at home helped."

"(:"

"The preview of past essay questions was by far the most helpful."

"FLashcards and previous quizzes helped"

"there was a lot of questions about the telescopes so id say study those."

"The in class review session was great!"

"Studying with a group helped me prepare."

"Reading and flashcards"

"reading the book"

"reviewing my notes and reading the text helped"

"The past quizzes and midterms were really helpful."

"pizza helped twinkies did not help"

"I made flashcards and it really helped."

"I would say the random essay questions made it hard to study for the multiple choice, you read and learn the facts. the essays were just really difficult"

"i would say that we didnt really go over the midterm, i wish there was a study guide."

"i feel that looking back on the quiz's helped"

"dojin"

"the telescope hint *wink wink*"

"Attending class and reviewing old tests and quizzes was very helpful."

"food"

"Notable things that helped me study were the in-class activities that I collected, as well as the lecture notes I took during class. What didn't help me with studying for the midterm was the flashcard questions on the website because I didn't know what the right answers were."

"The online questions for the midterm were very helpful. Also studying with friends in the class helped a lot."

"In class activitys Class lectures in general are comprehensible and interesting"

"Studying the in class activities and archived tests was really helpful. We will see if was helpful enough."

"The readings were helpful"

"More review next time"

"the online versions of the test were useful"

"Reviewing notes definitely helped a lot."

"Going over lecture notes helped alot"

"reading the book to go over what i learned in class helps"

"The old quizzes and midterms really helped!"

Online reading assignment question: interesting Midterm 1 astronomy topics

Astronomy 210 Reading Assignment 7, Spring Semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

100310-interestingwordle
http://www.flickr.com/photos/waiferx/4455502667/
Originally uploaded by Waifer X

Wordle.net tag cloud for interesting topics covered in Midterm 1, generated by responses from Astronomy 210 students at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA (http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/1826463/Untitled).

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.

List at least three words describing interesting subjects covered in class (up through this midterm). (Graded for completion.)

[Responses have been edited to consolidate related common subjects.]

Student responses
Sections 30674, 30676
sun
light, stars, moon
sun, moon, stars
moonphases, spectra, comparingstars
moon, sun, stars
blackbodyradiation, quantumleaps, electromagneticradiation
eclipses, starbrightnesses, starwheels
everything
sunspots, misosoup, telescopes
stars, light, moon
moonphases
starsize, lumninosity, startemperature
stars, light, sound
moon, starwheels, telescopes
astronomers, stars, sun
fascinating, mesmerizing, wondrous
sun, Kirchhoffslaws, stars
telescopes, retrograde, moonphases
sunspots, absolutemagnitude, retrograde, convection, misosoup, granules
eclipses, moonphases, starwheels
telescopes, lightgatheringpower, resolvingpower
absolutemagnitude, apparentmagnitude
luminosity, starsize, startemperature, sun, moonphases
cool, fabulous, awesome
stars, sun, moon
starbrightnesses
stars, telescope, planetarymotion
stardistances, sun, radiotelescopes
seasons, astronomers, orbits
zodiac, telescopes, starwheels
interesting, fun, logical
telescopes, retrograde, planets
fascinating, fun, fantastic
retrograde, moonphases, philosophers
moonphases, starbrightnesses
gravity, atmopshere, ellipses
stars, telescopes, sun
light, spectra, astronomers, eclipses
moonphases, planets, astronomyinthemarketplace
astronomers
stars, moonphases, telescopes
stars, eclipses, philosphers
moonphases
gammarays, whitedwarfs, telescopes, supergiants, parsecs
moonphases, planetarymotion, eclipses
stars, light, sun
starwheels, moonphases
magnifyingpower, gibbous, astrology
stars, moonphases, seasons
moonphases, planetarymotion
moon, sun, planets
moonphases
history, Galileo, Inquisition
stars, eclipses, telescopes
P-dog, zodiac, moon phases
eclipses, waxing, gibbous, Keplerslaws
stars, eclipses, philosophers
starwheels, moonphases, spectra
eclipses, crescent, gibbous
fascinating unbelievable wow
moonphases
interesting, abstract, in-depth
moonphases, precession, wavelengths
eclipses, gammarays, starwheels
P-dog aliens stars
mooncycles, retrograde, sun
eclipses
Keplerslaws, bluemoon, moonphases
eclipses, heliocentrism, geocentrism, telescopes
electromagneticspectrum
electrons, telescopes, stars
astrology, moonphases, astronomers
moonphases, eclipses, telescopes
moonphases, precession, stars
space, moon, MilkyWay
history, planetarymotion, stars
planetarymotion, telescopes, moonphases
stars, magnitude, electromagneticradiation
eh, ok, alright
orbit, lunar eclipses, solar eclipses
moonphases, stars, electrons
blackholes, starbrightnesses, astrology
stars, orbits, telescopes
stars, stuff
stars, spectra, P-dog
infinite, microscopic, void


Describe your most interesting subject, and briefly explain why this subject interested you. (Graded for completion.)

The following are all of the student responses to this question, verbatim and unedited.
"on how they came up with the theoies on how plantes move. How would you even know where to start and predicate such information"

"Stars, To me they are just sleeping giants that are absolutely mind bogaling in size and power.
Learning how the sun, moon, stars move was interesting because I can see it every day."

"I really enjoyed learning about the moon phases and the highest over head times. I never knew that each phase was highest overhead at a specfic time."

"suns was the most interesting subject because it has so many functions."

"quantum leaps- the concept was easy to understand and it made sense"

"the brightness and size of the stars. Its jus interesting how stars can be so huge and hot and yet they appear just a little dot in the sky."

"mm idk yet"

"Star and how big they are is the most interesting subject to me because it makes you realize your place in the world, its crazy!!!"

"I liked learning about the stars because that's what astronomy is all about.
moon phases because i could never understand it until this semester"

"I enjoyed learning about the temperature of stars and the various spectrums: absorption, continuous, and emission. It wasn't what I expected to learn about stars, but it was very interesting."

"they r all =ly interesting in sum aspects."

"Starwheels, because when i dont know what a group of stars is, its very easy to find out :)"

"Asronmers!!!! I love history, therfore it wasn't torture memorizing them. It just made since."

"Moon phases and their time had my interest because they were easy to understand."

"Determining the heat, luminosity, and distance of a star because I can look up into the night sky and know that a blue star is much hotter than a red star."

"the moon phases were confusing but interesting"

"Learning that astrology is sort of a pseudoscience, in that they don't account for precession."

"Eclipses by far, I have always been interested about they occurred. Now I know."

"Telescopes because it helps you understand another 'world.'"

"I loved working on apparent and absolute magnetude, it just clicked so easily for me. It is really cool to be able to tell where (approximately) a star is from earth just by comparing its magnetiudes."

"i really liked learning about star color, brightness, size and placement in the sky."

"solar eclipses because I'm a dark, angry person."

"the moon was the most interesting because now whenever i look at it i try to figure out the stage it is in"

"I really enjoyed learning about the stars, how they're born and how they die."

"Telescope and its powers and how they work, because it is interesting."

"how they measure the distance of stars, it's pretty cool how they can measure without having to leave earth"

"The history of the astronomers is what I found most interesting. I loved learning where the flow of ideas and discoveries has led us."

"the subject that i found most interesting would be the zodiac signs because i find astrology very interesting and even have a book or two on it"

"i have no idea. its all interesting dude!"

"retrograde becasue its seems gnarly."

"The most interesting subject for me was the different moon phases. This subject interested me because at first it seemed hard to understand, but then, once I caught on, it was fun."

"The most interesting subject was retrograde motion because of the appearance of a planet's motion across the sky which is actually only seen by the eye and not actually occuring."

"light/start brightness. It is interesting to find out how bright stars are and why they are that way."

"the sun and how it makes plants move faster when they are closer to it."

"Astronomy because I like learning about the solar system."

"history of the astronomers. it's very interesting to me how they discovered certain things. then again I like history."

"is this as in more interesting subject in astronomy? if so moon phases because i can see them and conceptually grasp the idea of whats happeneing."

"the moon cycles because i la la love the moon"

"I liked learning about moon phases, because I had always wondered about that."

"tars because there are so many and they come in many shapes and sizes."

"I was interested in retrograde motion. The movements of our planet and the planets around us sparks my imagination."

"the most interesting subject that i have learned about so far would have to be this course because as a little kid i used to look up at the stars and wonder why are there little lights blinking back at me."

"Moon phases were most interesting to me because it gives me a better understanding of how the earth, sun and moon move with respect to each other."

"I really like to learn about the history of astronomy, probably because I am a history major."

"The star wheels because at first they looked really hard to use but were actually really easy once you got the hang of it"

"Key features of a telescope as my Dad built one in the late 60s."

"Zodiac Signs, because I am really interested in how the zodiac signs effect our relationships and personalities."

"the moon phases because now i can identify them and impress people"

"liked learning about the phases of the moon because I always wondered why it changed shapes."

"None."

"The most interesting subject has got to be the star wheel and the dates and times when different constellations are visible. I loved learning about how the Earth's procession has altered the astrological signs and the discrepancy that occurs with regards to astrology and the signs of the zodiac."

"Eclipses because you do not see them very often."

"moon phases because i always wondered"

"moon phases because its easy to understand and seems pointlessly useful"

"Stars because there are so many and they come in many shapes and sizes."

"Mapping stars and learning how the moon phases work was most interesting to me."

"Eclipse: I find it interesting what makes either a solar or lunar eclipse happen and where the best spots to see it are."

"The movement of stars in the sky, because i didnt realize how they appeared to move in relation with the earth."

"the moon stages because i really never knew how the cycle was"

"The 'Astronomers' section was awesome. I have always been interested in the history of things."

"I really enjoyed learning about the moon and the different phases of the moon. I never paid attention to how the moon rotated and changed or realized the fairly complex system that it follows. Now I find myself looking at the moon every night and I can tell exactly what stage its in, when it rose/set, when it will be at its highest point."

"Constellations because I was always curious as to what I was looking at."

"rt because i like to draw"

"The moon's phases because the moon is something that i look at most nights"

"I honestly don't know"

"quantum physics, because its 4 times the amount of physics that i need"

"I liked the rotation of the moon around the sun because it was difficult to grasp the concept however once you have it i feel its really cool to know."

"liked reading about Newtons laws. My favorite being the second. I dug it because i play futbol and as mid-fielder/ right wing on free kicks I would cross the ball from the right and it would bend in a sort of banana shape towards my fowards. I liked reading about my actions on the pitch and relating it to astronomy terms"

"i like learning about the stars brightness and we tell there true brightness"

"i think learning about star rotation has been the most interesting because i never noticed how they moved until i looked at the star wheel"

"it was interesting to learn how precession changed how the constellations alligned with the sun changing what month everyone actually is."

"i thoroughly enjoy weight training...its a great way to shape up the bod for beach season"

"Understanding the lunar cycles was neat, we see the moon almost every night and understanding the rising and setting times was something I found cool."

"math, because i can figure out the answer i don't have to know the answer"

"The birth of modern science, although briefly explained in class, was the most interesting to me. "

"When learning about the different astronomers and their contributions to the science world, it allowed me to make connections between astronomy and other science and mathematics, such as calculus, quantum mechanics, and modern physics. This made me realize that astronomy is connected to everything we know, and this simple idea motivates me to want to discover what is still unknown to mankind at any necessary risks. As an engineer, this goal seems right in my grasp."

"My most interesting subject so farvis the theories of all the scientists. Its cool knowing what they thought the universe was like back in the day."

"Electromagnetic rays are cool because they are both electro and magnets in forms of rays"

"Astronomy isn't really my thing, I wouldn't say anything has struck me as super interesting. sorry
the movement of the stars overnight, i had no idea they moves at all before taking the class
the stars because its a nice easy concept"

"anything to do with stars. chicks dig it"

"tars, because I find it interesting how there are so many out in space and how they are formed/destroyed."

"everything about the suns and size and luminosity, because it is on such a large scale"

"human sexuality"

"The sun, I like learning about the reactions and composition of the sun."

Online reading assignment question: confusing Midterm 1 astronomy topics

Astronomy 210 Reading Assignment 7, Spring Semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

100310-confusingwordle
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Originally uploaded by Waifer X

Wordle.net tag cloud for confusing topics covered in Midterm 1, generated by responses from Astronomy 210 students at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA (http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/1826513/Untitled).

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.

List at least three words describing confusing subjects covered in class (up through this midterm). (Graded for completion.)

[Responses have been edited to consolidate related common subjects.]

Student responses
Sections 30674, 30676
eclipses
astronomers, telescopes, startofclassjokes:P
astronomers
eclipses, astronomers, spectra
starwheels, horizon, eclipses
telescopes, moonphases, eclipses
telescopes, wavelength, starwheels
everything
H-Rdiagram, parsecs, Kirchoffslaws, Wienslaw, Newtonslaws,
sun, energy, light
astronomers
starwheels, moonphases
stars, light, sound
telescopes
moon, starwheels, asolutemagnitude
dazed, distorted, befuddled
Kirchhoffslaws, planetarymotion, moonphases
astronomers, astronomers, moonphases
moonphases, absolutemagnitude, apparentmagnitude
moonphases, retrograde, astronomers
nothing
moonphases
planetarymotion
confusing, nauseating, gaseous
eclipses, telescopes, mooonphases
telescopes
moonphases, Kirchofflaws, spectra
telescopes
moonphases, spectra, telescopes
astronomers, heliocentrism, geocentrism
absences, information, complex
Copernicus, Ptolemy, astronomers
frustrating, flustering, fuzzyonthebrain
electromagnetispectrum, telescopes, refractors, reflectors
planetarymotion
axis, turbulence, waxing
sun, stars, planetarymotion
emission, absorption
telescopes, planetarymotion, scientists
Keplerslaws
retrograde, prograde, astronomers
prograde, retrograde, starwheels
nothing
starwheels, geocentrism, heliocentrism, quantummechanics
stars
moonphases, starwheels, light
everything
nothing
moonphases, UV
planetarymotion
astronomers, history
prograde, retrograde, planetarymotion
waxing, waning, tilt
blackholes, eclipses, stars
retrograde, telescopes, planetarymotion
prograde, retrograde, starwheels
magnifyingpower, resolvingpower, lightgatheringpower
boring, stupid, dumb
everything
odd, strange, unrealistic
electromagneticspectrum, stellarstructure, fusion
absolutemagnitude, photosphere, continuousspectra, moonphases
cycles, aliens, electrons
moonphases, spectra
astronomers, history
fustrated, angry, pissed
astronomers, eclipses, telescopes
retrograde, prograde
astronomers, moonphases
telescopes, electromagneticspectrum
eclipses, astronomers, telescopes
eclipses, starwheels, telescopes
astronomers, Tycho, Kepler
bread, stars, annoyed
telescopes, moonphases, eclipses
eclipses, geocentrism, planetarymotion
spectra, retrograde
everything
Copernicus, planets
moonphases
astronomers
distances, starwheels, calculations
astronomers
sun, astronomers
moonphases, light, planetarymotions


Describe your most confusing subject, and briefly explain why this subject confused you. (Graded for completion.)

The following are all of the student responses to this question, verbatim and unedited.
"lunar and solar eclise dont know what kind of eclipse it is showing"

"Telescopes, I chose this because it was the one day i missed and i never read the chapter :("

"Many different names for solar system models."

"I get confused by ecllispes and how to tell where the earth is in relation to the moon to make certain partial and total lunar adn solar ecllipses"

"The most confusing subject was the astronomers. I always get them mixed up!"

"moon cycles- could not fully get what the moons looked like in their different stages and t times of the night."

"i got confused about the resolving power and light gathering power."

"all of it"

"Right now, its trying to wrap my head around the H-R graph because there are so many different angles to consider...its tricky!"

"Learning about light spectrums was really confusing. It was hard remembering what spectrum fit into which catagory."

"the readings were too dry"

"I am having a difficult time understanding how to know when and where a star will be somewhere in the sky according to the 4 week cycle... I need clarification, and then to practice this."

"they r all also =ly confusing"

"Which kind of telescope will be better and cheaper and where to put it? are confusing questions."

"The moon phases!!!!! I memorized the times and shades of the moon phases but still continue to freeze and choke when it gets to that section of any test. I want to almost think of them working backwards to the way they actually work."

"I think the 10 parsec is the most confusing subject to me so far. I get the concept, but not the 'which planet is closer if you move them 10 parsec away'."

"determining position of earth, sun, and inner planets as seen from looking above because it was hard to visualize and i needed more practice"

"remembering all the astronomers"

"The moon phases because figuring out the rising and setting times just took me a while to grasp."

"The diagram confused me and I had to try and wrap my brain around it, but eventually I noticed things and they were clarified."

"Moon phases by far, I still have trouble understanding how each phase occurs."

"Placement of planets and why they don't appear in the night at certain times."

"I don't understand how you can tell what a moon will look like if it rises on (x) day at (y) time. It just doesn't make sense. I understand it when we're learning about it in class, and then once we leave it runs away. :("

"a lot of stuff is confusing.."

"If the focal length is the length of the tube, twice the length or 3 times the length."

"telescopes questions were hard for me to figure like 'which would be the best situation' i didn't think the book went into much detail"

"The telescope section because i didn't understood even after i read the chapter."

"Moon phases, just never understood how it works"

"telescopes, it was hard to get the powers down to match the right aspects of the telescope"

"The telescope powers is the subject I found most confusing because there was so much overlap in what affected them. The diameter was related to the area but affected different powers. The focal length of the tube is related to the diameter of the eyepiece but also affected different powers. It was confusing in answering the multiple choice questions because of the overlap."

"trying to learn about the astronomers because there isn't much logic to it just memorizing"

"Probably telescopes and their construction. i was absent that day and never fully got caught up on it (my fault)"

"the astronomers because they arent to interesting to me so its hard to study them and understand there principles"

"The most confusing subject for me was the telescopes. They were confusing because I could not get straight what part of the telescope did a certain function."

"The moon phases and times was the most confusing to me up until a few days before the final. I spent some time comparing answers from previous questions and gained an understanding of how to determine the different phases and the rise and set times on my own which I think helped me to remember it much easier. I think that it was confusing because it was really explained in the book, there were just diagrams to look at and I had missed the class where we went over it."

"knowing where the planets are in prograde and retrograde. I am really bad with direction."

"the phases of the moon, cause they all look so similar"

"Astronomy because its hard to understand a lot of the info."

"emission and absorption light is very abstract to me. I need it to be more tangible. naaa mean??"

"scientists because it is so confusing to keep them all straight especially the ones who had invalid illogical theories."

"wait i dont get it. in general? i guess math"

"retrograde confused me when I had to apply it to problems."

"Spectrum's because the heat factor confused me."

"See #8. [I'm having a hard time thinking of confusing subjects.]"

"The most confusing subject would have to be math, because math is not very interesting to me and it doesn't really relate to my major."

"The makeup of stars (most likely since I wasn't there...)"

"The moon phases especially the difference between the first and third phases, my book was one of ones with a typo."

"I felt like the first few classes everything was explained and I could follow along. Then the classes started to give to much information and it was hard to keep up"

"The historical aspects of five key astronmers. I believe the relationship of the interaction ideas and the their discoveries is more complex than presented by the book."

"Moon Phases, for some reason I just did not understand them."

"Planet location in the sky because it wasn't reviewed enough in class"

"I was confused about telescopes because i was not at class the night you lectured on them."

"It's hard to remember what each of the different astronomers did during there life time."

"The most confusing subject would have to be all subjects that concern you to think about the time and date and cardinal positions on a compass."

"both waxing and waning because i get confused on how they look in pictures."

"black holes cause you didnt say anything about it"

"timing of overhead planetary and moon alignment"

"Spectrum's because the heat factor confused me."

"Telescopes were my most confusing subject because I wasn't sure exactly how to calculate the 3 basics for it."

"the most confusing subject involves the cycle of the moon because i dont understand when the moon is highest where."

"too many to name :("

"Planetary motion, I missed the class lecture regarding the subject."

"I am having a really hard time understanding everything with the wavelengths. I don't really understand the difference between all of them."

"All stars are absorption spectrum, but the photosphere is continuous, seems kind of weird to me.
math because i dont like math"

"probably different types of light spectrums, i get confused on why some are emission"

"My most confusing subject was the functions of telescopes"

"pizza, twinkies, those are my favorite snack"

"Just remembering all the astronomers and what they did was the most time consuming subject."

"On the mid-term the first question regarding the star wheel. i couldnt find anytime that corresponded with the question being asked. i ended up guessing on it and felt like it was going to be a esay 4 pts"

"the moon phases, i still dont get it. there just to confusing"

"i don't quite understand telescope and the lens"

"astronomer because there was a lot of material to remember"

"english, i don't understand why its so hard for my teacher to give me a good grade on my papers"

"On the early astronomers, who proposed the idea of heliocentrism vs. who proved it and how. I think i missed those two questions on the midterm."

"astronomy because it is"

"The most confusing subject for me was the phases of the moon. I was confused mostly over the rising and setting times of the moon depending on the current phase in its orbit around Earth. I feel like we should have spent more time covering the moon and its phases."

"The model of the different types of eclipse were difficult because I missed that lesson and had trouble understanding the two different types."

"so far this class has not been very confusing to me maybe its because i watched carl sagan's 'cosmos' series like 50 times"

"The telescope...stuff, was the most confusing to me."

"planetary motion"

"help me more with the phases"

"thea astronomers, because i didnt read the section and i dont care who discoered epicycles"

"The calculations are tough, because I'm not the best at math and we don't go over it too often."

"the astronomers, because i kept getting them confused"

"i'm just smart so i know all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"The lunar phases, It was hard to remember which order the different phases went in and when they rise or set."

20100328

Astronomy current events question: Phobos composition

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

Students are assigned to read online articles on current astronomy events, and take a short current events quiz during the first 10 minutes of lab. (This motivates students to show up promptly to lab, as the time cut-off for the quiz is strictly enforced!)
Astronomy.com editors, "Phobos Flyby Success," March 5, 2010
http://www.astronomy.com/asy/default.aspx?c=a&id=9644
What have European Space Agency researchers deduced about Mars' moon, Phobos, from the recent encounter by the Mars Express spacecraft?
(A) Not dense enough to be completely solid.
(B) An escaped moon from Jupiter.
(C) Primarily composed of dirty ices.
(D) Rich in highly radioactive elements.
(E) Interior still retains a significant amount of heat.

Correct answer: (A)

Student responses
Sections 30678, 30679, 30680
(A) : 44 students
(B) : 4 students
(C) : 1 student
(D) : 5 students
(E) : 4 students

20100327

Astronomy current events question: solar wind versus Mars' atmosphere

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

Students are assigned to read online articles on current astronomy events, and take a short current events quiz during the first 10 minutes of lab. (This motivates students to show up promptly to lab, as the time cut-off for the quiz is strictly enforced!)
Astronomy.com editors, "Solar Wind Pulses Help Blow Away Martian Atmosphere," March 11, 2010
http://www.astronomy.com/asy/default.aspx?c=a&id=9661
According to European researchers, what evidence is there that solar wind pulses are a significant cause of Mars' atmosphere loss?
(A) Analyzing air pockets trapped in early and recent lava rocks.
(B) Absence of rings around Mars.
(C) Remote weather stations on Mars' surface.
(D) Tracking heavy ions leaving Mars' atmosphere.
(E) No global warming on Mars.

Correct answer: (D)

Student responses
Sections 30678, 30679, 30680
(A) : 9 students
(B) : 2 students
(C) : 3 students
(D) : 43 students
(E) : 4 students

20100326

Astronomy current events question: Saturn opposition

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

Students are assigned to read online articles on current astronomy events, and take a short current events quiz during the first 10 minutes of lab. (This motivates students to show up promptly to lab, as the time cut-off for the quiz is strictly enforced!)
Michael E. Bakich, "Saturn to Make Its Best Appearance of the Year," March 15, 2010
http://www.astronomy.com/asy/default.aspx?c=a&id=9666
Saturn is currently in opposition, which is the best time to observe it. Opposition is when Saturn:
(A) has its rings tilted most towards Earth.
(B) does not pass behind the moon.
(C) is brighter than light pollution.
(D) lies opposite the sun from our perspective on Earth.
(E) has the opposite season of Earth.

Correct answer: (D)

Student responses
Sections 30678, 30679, 30680
(A) : 9 students
(B) : 4 students
(C) : 0 students
(D) : 44 students
(E) : 1 student

Astronomy current events question: zodiacal light

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

Students are assigned to read online articles on current astronomy events, and take a short current events quiz during the first 10 minutes of lab. (This motivates students to show up promptly to lab, as the time cut-off for the quiz is strictly enforced!)
Kelly Beatty, "Zodiacal Light's Mystery Solved," March 11, 2010
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/news/87336457.html
Researchers from the Southwest Research Institute have successfully modeled the origin of the zodiacal light as dust from short-period comets. What is the zodiacal light?
(A) A faint cone of light during twilight stretching across the ecliptic.
(B) The original lines connecting the stars in the zodiac constellations.
(C) Material left over after the large impact that created Earth's moon.
(D) Light reflected from the Milky Way, no longer visible due to light pollution.
(E) Dust trailing the moon from comet bombardments.

Correct answer: (A)

Student responses
Sections 30678, 30679, 30680
(A) : 45 students
(B) : 4 students
(C) : 3 students
(D) : 4 students
(E) : 5 students

20100325

Physics quiz question: series circuit

Physics 205B Quiz 4, spring semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e, Problem 18.31

An ideal 6.0 V emf source is connected to a 12.0 Ω resistor and a 0.5 Ω light bulb. The current flowing through the light bulb is:
(A) 0.013 A.
(B) 0.48 A.
(C) 2.1 A.
(D) 75 A.

Correct answer (highlight to unhide): (B)

The equivalent resistance of this circuit (resistor and light bulb are in series with the emf) is the sum of these resistances. Thus the current flowing through all parts of this circuit is given by:

I = ΔV/Req = (6.0 V)/(0.5 Ω + 12.0 Ω) = (6.0 V)/(12.5 Ω) = 0.48 A.

(Response (A) is 1/(Req·ΔV); response (C) is ReqV; response (D) is Req·ΔV.)

Student responses
Section 31988
(A) : 0 students
(B) : 8 students
(C) : 3 students
(D) : 0 students

Success level: 72%
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 1.00

20100324

Physics quiz question: electron beam current

Physics 205B Quiz 4, Spring Semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e, Problems 18.2, 18.5

The FLASH accelerator at the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron* in Hamburg, Germany, generated a peak electron beam current of 9 mA in 2009. How many electrons passed through a cross section of this beam in one second?
(A) 6e+16 electrons.
(B) 7e+20 electrons.
(C) 1e+28 electrons.
(D) 1e+32 electrons.

Correct answer: (A)

Current I is given by:

I = delta(q)/delta(t).

Since the charge of one electron is 1.602e-19 C, then this problem involves unit cancellation:

I = (9e-3 C/s)*(1 electron/1.602e-19 C) = 6e16 electrons/s.

Student responses
Section 31988
(A) : 7 students
(B) : 1 student
(C) : 2 students
(D) : 1 student

Success level: 63%
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 1.00

Reference:
* "Successful FLASH Tests for European XFEL and ILC," http://www.desy.de/e409/e4948/e11064/e58382/index_eng.html, September 24, 2009.

20100323

Physics quiz question: separating capacitor plates

Physics 205B Quiz 4, spring semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e, Problems 17.57, 17.58

A parallel plate capacitor is connected to a battery that supplies a constant potential difference. While the battery is still attached, the parallel plates are separated a little more. As the parallel plates are separated, the charge will:
(A) decrease.
(B) remain constant.
(C) increase.
(D) (Not enough information is given.)

Correct answer (highlight to unhide): (A)

Since the battery is still connected to the capacitor, the potential difference ∆V remains constant. Separating the parallel plates of the capacitor will decrease the capacitance, as increasing d will decrease C in:

C = A/(4·π·k·d).

Thus the charge Q on the capacitor will decrease, as decreasing C (while ∆V remains constant) will decrease Q, as seen from:

C = Q/∆V.

Student responses
Section 31988
Exam code: quiz04v0L7
(A) : 7 students
(B) : 3 students
(C) : 1 student
(D) : 0 students

Success level: 63%
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.67

20100322

Astronomy quiz question: same luminosity, but different size stars

Astronomy 210 Quiz 4, Spring Semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

A(n) __________ has the same luminosity as, but is larger than a G5 white dwarf.
(A) A0 main-sequence star.
(B) K0 supergiant.
(C) K5 giant.
(D) M5 main-sequence star (red dwarf).

Correct answer: (D)

Using an H-R diagram, the only star that has the same luminosity as a G5 white dwarf is the M5 red dwarf, which is also larger in size, from reading off the diagonal equiradial lines on the H-R diagram; and/or applying the Stefan-Boltzmann law, where given two stars of the same luminosity, the cooler star (G5) must be larger in size than a hotter star (M5).

Section 30676
(A) : 3 students
(B) : 6 students
(C) : 10 students
(D) : 45 students

"Success level": 72% (including partial credit for multiple-choice)
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.39

20100321

Astronomy quiz question: distance from apparent and absolute magnitudes

Astronomy 210 Quiz 4, Spring Semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Alpha Mensae is a star that has an apparent magnitude m = +5.08 and an absolute magnitude M_V = +5.05. How far away is Alpha Mensae from Earth?
(A) Much farther away than 10 parsecs.
(B) A little farther away than 10 parsecs.
(C) Exactly 10 parsecs away.
(D) Closer than 10 parsecs away.

Correct answer: (B)

Alpha Mensae appears to be +5.08 as seen from its true distance from Earth, but when placed at the "fair" distance of 10 parsecs away, its becomes slightly brighter (+5.05). Thus it was brought closer to get to 10 parsecs, and was located farther than 10 parsecs away from Earth.

Section 30676
(A) : 7 students
(B) : 48 students
(C) : 3 students
(D) : 7 students

"Success level": 76% (including partial credit for multiple-choice)
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.62

20100320

Astronomy quiz question: hottest star

Astronomy 210 Quiz 4, Spring Semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Which star is hottest?
(A) A0 white dwarf.
(B) B0 main-sequence star.
(C) G5 giant.
(D) M5 main-sequence star (red dwarf).

Correct answer: (B)

Using the OBAFGKM spectral type mnemonic, or reading off of an H-R diagram (provided on this quiz), the B0 main-sequence star is the hottest, followed by the A0 white dwarf, G5 giant, and M5 red dwarf. Apparently a few students chose the A0 white dwarf for being "white-hot" (when in fact the B0 main-sequence star would be a hotter white-, or even blue-hot in appearance). Notably, this quiz was given the week after an OBAFGKM poetry slam.

Section 30674
(A) : 4 students
(B) : 39 students
(C) : 0 students
(D) : 0 students

"Success level": 91% (including partial credit for multiple-choice)
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.25

Section 30676
(A) : 14 students
(B) : 42 students
(C) : 6 students
(D) : 3 students

"Success level": 67% (including partial credit for multiple-choice)
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.30

Previous post: Astronomy quiz question: hottest star, (spring semester 2009).

20100319

Astronomy quiz question: distance from apparent and absolute magnitudes

Astronomy 210 Quiz 4, Spring Semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

61 Ursae Majoris is a star that has an apparent magnitude m = +5.31 and an absolute magnitude M_V = +5.41. How far away is 61 Ursae Majoris from Earth?
(A) Much farther away than 10 parsecs.
(B) A little farther away than 10 parsecs.
(C) Exactly 10 parsecs away.
(D) Closer than 10 parsecs away.

Correct answer: (D)

61 Ursae Majoris appears to be +5.31 as seen from its true distance from Earth, but when placed at the "fair" distance of 10 parsecs away, its becomes slightly dimmer (+5.41). Thus it was pushed back to get to 10 parsecs, and was located closer than 10 parsecs away from Earth.

Section 30674
(A) : 1 student
(B) : 8 students
(C) : 2 students
(D) : 32 students

"Success level": 76% (including partial credit for multiple-choice)
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.58

20100318

Astronomy quiz question: same luminosity, but different size stars

Astronomy 210 Quiz 4, Spring Semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

A(n) __________ has the same luminosity as, but is larger than a B5 main-sequence star.
(A) A0 main-sequence star.
(B) B5 supergiant.
(C) G5 main-sequence star.
(D) M0 giant.

Correct answer: (D)

Using an H-R diagram, the only star that has the same luminosity as a B5 main-sequence star is the M0 giant, which is also larger in size, from reading off the diagonal equiradial lines on the H-R diagram; and/or applying the Stefan-Boltzmann law, where given two stars of the same luminosity, the cooler star (M0) must be larger in size than a hotter star (B5).

Section 30674
(A) : 1 student
(B) : 4 students
(C) : 4 students
(D) : 34 students

"Success level": 80% (including partial credit for multiple-choice)
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.42

20100317

Astronomy in-class activity: OBAFGKM poetry slam (SLO)

Astronomy 210, Spring Semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA
(San Luis Obispo Campus)

Astronomy 210 In-class activity 14: OBAFGKM Poetry Slam

Students were instructed to use at least OBAFGKM, and/or part or all of the additional OBAFGKMRNSC or OBAFGKMLT extensions to individually write an original, coherent and an appropriate (nothing worse than "PG-13" rated!) mnemonic, and to give a rousing reading of their OBAFGKM mnemonic poem for the class.

Oscar Bails Apples from Gorillas Kicking Monkeys
--B. A.

Obama Brings Animated Fun Grommit Kook Mam
--J. A.

Olga Bakes Alfred Flaming Gecko Knees Manly
--K. A.

Orlando Bloom: Another Famous Guy Keeping Mullets Looking Trendy...
--N. B.

Out Beat A Fun Games of Kings Mug
--N. B.

Owlbears Beat A Freakin' Goblin Killing Min-max'd Rogue Ninja Scout Cut-purse
--E. B.

Obama Banishes Aliens For Good Karma, Man
--J. B.

Oh Baby, A Fat Giraffe Killed Me!
--E. B.

Oh Boy A Fierce Godzilla Killed Me
--M. C.

Oh Boy, Another Facking Gandalf Killed Me
--A. C.

Off Beat Adventure Freaks Get Killer Mullets
--C. C.

Oven Baked Apricots Feed Great Knowledgeable Manly-men
--L. D.

Only Bugs Avoid Fighting Giant Kittens (Mice Too!)
--M. D.

Only Big And Freaky Girls Kiss Me Like That
--D. D.

Our Big TV Allows Fat Grampa Kyle More Lazy Time
--A. D.

Old Bart Ate Four Giant King Meals
--J. D.

Oh Brother, A Fat Guy Killed My Last Taco
--B. D.

Our Basement Always Floods, Given Kentucky's Many Rainstorms
--A. E.

Only Ben And Fernando Get Kix Mom
--K. E.

Oppenheimer Bohr Ampere Faraday Gauss Kepler Maxwell
--B. F.

Only Big And Fat Guys Kiss Me
--T. F.

Orange Bananas Are Fruit Getting Kind of Mutated
--G. F.

Only Big Anchovies Feel Great with Ketchup and Mayonnaise
--M. G.

Only Bad Ass Freaks Get Kitty Mane
--W. G.

Oh Be A Fantabulous Girl Kook Me Rice aNd Shrimp
--B. H.

Oh Brother Astronomy Frazzles Great Keen Minds Remembering Newton Springs Consternation
--J. H.

Oatmeal Bars Are Fantastically Good... Kinda MMMMmmm
--B. H.

Oprah Bought Acid For Guilty Killer MILFs
--D. H.

Obama Blazes All Fantastic Green Keef Multiple Rounds Never Sharing Chronic
--J. H.

Only Beasts And Ferocious Giants Kill Men
--S. H.

Oh Beware A Freaky Guy Killed Me
--C. J.

Occasionally, Beastly Apes Find Goats as Killer Mates :)
--K. J.

Old Bums Are Fairly Gentle Kind Men
--J. K.

Only Beer Attracts Females Giving Keg Money
--S. K.

Out Before Amanda Finals Grabig(?) and Kills Me
--E. L.

Orange Bananas Are For Giving Growling Killer Monkeys Running Naked Smoking Cannabis
--K. L.

Over Board Again Friend, Go "Kick-It" Man
--C. M.

Only Bees And Flies Go 'Kasplat' Making Really Nice Splatter Constellations!!!
--J. M.

Orange Baboons Angrily Fight Giant Kangaroos Mysteriously
--C. M.

Only Blind Automotive Fans Give Kias Magnficent Reviews, Not Serious Car-lovers
--D. M.

Oh Boy Astronomers Finals Give Killer Migraines
--M. M.

Oh Boy Another Four Games, Kill Me
--R. M.

Only Because Alice Frequently Grew Kingly Mustaches
--S. M.

OK, Basically A Fat Guppy Killed Me
--C. N.

Oozing Blood, Awkwardly Flowing, Gone, Killed Mirthlessly
--K. O.

On Base Astronomers Find Good Kuiper Measurements
--M. P.

Only Bad Astronomers Forget Generally Known Mnemonics
--J. P.

On Board A Flight Getting Kids Money
--M. P.

Our Big Ant Farm Gained Kilo Meter
--J. R.

One Big Ass Fire God Kona's Murdered
--A. R.

Oh Be Alert For Giant Killer Monkeys Lighting Torches
--R. R.

Obama and Biden Are Friendly Guys Killing Millionaires
--J. R.

Only Beer Awesomely Fills Giant Kegs Man
--T. R.

Orange Band-aids After Fighting a Green Killer Monster Look Tacky
--M. R.

Old Basketball Athletes Finance Great King's Money Like Trash
--J. S.

Olive Baskets At Family Gatherings Kause Measles
--G. S.

Oh Brother, Another Freaking Gorilla Knocked Me Right Next to the Scorpius Constellation
--A. S.

Only Brawlers And Fighters Get Kicked Maliciously
--D. S.

Old Beers Are For Ghost King Mustafa
--T. S.

Orangutans Bark At Fat Girls who Kill Monkeys
--J. S.

Oh Barack, Always Flapping Gums and Kissing Monkeys' Little Tails
--A. S.

On Beaches A Flattering Girl Knows Me
--K. T.

Obama Barely Arouses Females Goodies with Kinky Methods
--P. T.

Oprah Battled A Ferocious Gladiator Kicking Massive Rocks Near Salonius' Coconuts
--A. V.

Only Boys Allowed, For Girl Kisses Mean Receiving Nasty Sick Cooties
--G. G.

Overly Baked Apple Fragments Give Kamakazi Messages
--J. W. (1)

Obese Bats Are Fat, Goofy, Klutzy Mammals
--J. W. (2)

Obama Barack And Friends Gave Kickback Money
--J. Z.

Previous post: Astronomy in-class activity: OBAFGKM poetry slam instructions.

Astronomy in-class activity: OBAFGKM poetry slam (NCC)

Astronomy 210, Spring Semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA
(North County Campus)

Astronomy 210 In-class activity 14: OBAFGKM Poetry Slam

Students were instructed to use at least OBAFGKM, and/or part or all of the additional OBAFGKMRNSC or OBAFGKMLT extensions to individually write an original, coherent and an appropriate (nothing worse than "PG-13" rated!) mnemonic, and to give a rousing reading of their OBAFGKM mnemonic poem for the class.

Original BAWS A Fighting Genghis Khan Manifesting
--P. A.

Obnoxiously Bad Auditions For Global Karaoke Meeting
--R. A.

Old Baboons Are Funky Gross, Kinda Mean
--E. B.

Oh Boy A Fat Gator Killed Men
--K. B.

Ozzy Became A Fire Gun Killer Man
--P. B.

Obsessive Ball-Munching Archaic Feminist Girls Kill Men (Like the Terminator)
--A. B.

One Big Asteroid Fought Giant Killer Meteor Right Near Sun's Corona
--E. B.

Octopi Bully Animals From Great Kelp Mounds
--N. C.

Oysters Bearing A Fine Gem Kill Monkeys
--I. C.

Oh Baby A Fiesty Gorilla Kissed Me Like This
--A. C.

Only Boys Accepting Feminism Get Kissed Meaningfully
--B. D.

Overall, Boys Are Foolish, Girls Keep Movin'!
--J. E.

Oh Boy A Fat Giant Kicked Me
--J. G.

Ollie Busted Alex for Ganging on Kind Molly
--P. G.

"OBAFGKMLT"
(N.B.: Like that thing from "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs.")
--K. H.

Old Baseball-Players Are Forgetful Gubbers Killing Munchies
--B. H.

Old Bananas Are Freaking Good Killing Machines
--D. J.

One Boy Ate Fish (and) Got Killer Malaria
--W. L.

Oreos are Best After Finding a Glass of Kitchen Milk
--A. M.

Only Babes And Fancy Girls Kiss Men Like Tiger [Woods]
--J. M.

Officially Bored As Fudge Generating Killer Mnemonics
--T. M.

Oh Beer And Friends Greatly Kick My Little Toosh!
--R. M.

Official BAWS: A Figurative God, Keen-sighted Men
--R. M.

Our Baby, A Fine Girl, Kissed Me Lovingly Today
--B. M.

Oh Brother! Another "F" Grade?!? Killin' Me!!!
--B. N.

Oh Brother A Flamingo Got Kicked Miraculously
--J. P.

Orange Bananas Are Fruity Good Kid Meals
--B. R.

Oh Baby! A Freakin' Gorilla Kicked Me!
--L. R.

One Black Audi Full of Gas Kills Mercedes
--J. R.

Oh Bother A Ferocious Gnome Kicked My Little Toe
--M. S.

OBAma ForGot Kaucasian Males
--N. S.

Outrageously Bootilicious Asses Find Getting "Klothes" Monotonous
--T. S.

Old Butter Attracts Flies. Good Kitchen Masters Really Need Sinks Clean
--J. V.

Only Bad Annoying Friends Give Kooks Massive Raunchy No-good Sloppy Closeouts
--M. V.

"Our Brother, Aristotle, Fends Geocentric Knowledge Most...Ringing Nerves!" States Copernicus.
--K. W.

Previous post: Astronomy in-class activity: OBAFGKM poetry slam instructions.

20100316

Physics midterm problem: null electric field location near uneven dipole

Physics 205B Midterm 1, Spring Semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e, Problem 16.35, Multiple-Choice Question 16.10

[20 points.] Consider two point charges held at fixed locations. A –8.0 nC charge is at the origin, and a second +3.5 nC charge is at x = +0.25 m. Determine the location(s) (if any) along the x-axis where the magnitude of the electric field would be zero. (If there are no possible locations, then explain why.) Show your work and explain your reasoning.

Solution and grading rubric:
  • p = 20/20:
    Correct. Recognizes that (a) both charges create separate electric fields that must (b) combine to zero somewhere along the x-axis, such that k*|Q_1|/r_1^2 = k*|Q_2|/r_2^2, and (c) substitutes r_1 = x, and r_2 = x - 0.25 m, such that x = +0.74 m (the other solution is x = +0.15 m, which is not physically possible).
  • r = 16/20:
    Nearly correct, but includes minor math errors. Typically overlooks that distance terms need to be squared, or mangles r_2 substitution in terms of x.
  • t = 12/20:
    Nearly correct, but approach has conceptual errors, and/or major/compounded math errors. Some application of superposition of two separate sources of electric fields.
  • v = 8/20:
    Implementation of right ideas, but in an inconsistent, incomplete, or unorganized manner.
  • x = 4/20:
    Implementation of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit.
  • y = 2/20:
    Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
  • z = 0/20:
    Blank.

Grading distribution:
Section 31988
p: 1 student
r: 5 students
t: 2 students
v: 5 students
x: 0 students
y: 0 students
z: 0 students

A sample "p" response (from student 6686):

Physics midterm problem: soap film colors

Physics 205B Midterm 1, Spring Semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e, Problem 25.20

[20 points.] A soap film (n = 1.41) of thickness 320 nm is surrounded by air above and below. Which visible (400-700 nm) wavelength(s) in air reflects with constructive interference? Show your work and explain your reasoning.

Solution and grading rubric:
  • p = 20/20:
    Correct. Recognizes (a) reflection off of top of soap film causes 180° phase shift, while reflection off of bottom of soap film causes no phase shift, such that the two reflected rays are out-of-phase with each other; (b) the path difference is 2*t = 640 nm; (c) for constructive interference of two out-of-phase reflected rays, delta(l) = (m + 1/2)*lambda = odd*lambda/2, where lambda is the wavelength in oil; (d) wavelength in oil is related to the wavelength in air by lambda = lambda_0/n_oil, such that lambda_0 = 4*n*t/odd = 1800 nm, 600 nm, 360 nm, of which only 600 nm is in the visible light range. Minor algebraic errors okay, as long as (a)-(d) are all accounted for.
  • r = 16/20:
    Nearly correct, but includes minor math errors. Omission of one or two of concepts (a)-(d) outlined above.
  • t = 12/20:
    Nearly correct, but approach has conceptual errors, and/or major/compounded math errors. Demonstrates some understanding of at least one of concepts (a)-(d) outlined above.
  • v = 8/20:
    Implementation of right ideas, but in an inconsistent, incomplete, or unorganized manner.
  • x = 4/20:
    Implementation of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit.
  • y = 2/20:
    Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
  • z = 0/20:
    Blank.

Grading distribution:
Section 31988
p: 2 students
r: 3 students
t: 7 students
v: 1 student
x: 0 students
y: 0 students
z: 0 students

A sample "p" response (from student 1987), with a minor algebraic error in dividing 640 nm by a factor of (1/2), resulting in a wavelength (in soap) of 320 nm instead of 1280 nm:

Previous posts:

Physics midterm question: eyeglass prescription

Physics 205B Midterm 1, Spring Semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e, Multiple-Choice Question 24.3

[10 points.] A Physics 205B student cannot see distant objects, but can still see nearby objects. Would this student require a diverging lens or a converging lens prescription for a pair of glasses? Explain your reasoning using the properties of lenses and corrective optics.

Solution and grading rubric:
  • p = 10/10:
    Correct. A diverging lens would be required, whether arguing from the intermediate (virtual) image created by the lens being closer to the eye than the original object, such that the eye would be able to see it; and/or a diverging lens will diverge the rays such that the image produced in front of a retina for myopia will then converge further back, onto the retina.
  • r = 8/10:
    As (p), but argument indirectly, weakly, or only by definition supports the statement to be proven, or has minor inconsistencies or loopholes.
  • t = 6/10:
    Nearly correct, but argument has conceptual errors, or is incomplete. Recognizes that a lens that would create an image closer than the original object is required, but chooses a converging lens.
  • v = 4/10:
    Limited relevant discussion of supporting evidence of at least some merit, but in an inconsistent or unclear manner. Choice of lens motivated by magnification.
  • x = 2/10:
    Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit.
  • y = 1/10:
    Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
  • z = 0/10:
    Blank.

Grading distribution:
Section 31988
p: 5 students
r: 0 students
t: 4 students
v: 4 students
x: 0 students
y: 0 students
z: 0 students

A sample "p" response (from student 1930):

Another sample "p" response (from student 7575):

Physics midterm question: slowly crossing polarizers

Physics 205B Midterm 1, spring semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e, Problem 22.45

Unpolarized light passes through two polarizers with polarization axes that can be set at an angle θ with respect to each other. As this angle θ is increased from 0° to 90°, does the amount of light transmitted through the two polarizers increase, decrease, or increase then decrease, or decrease then increase? Explain your reasoning using the properties of light and polarizers.

Solution and grading rubric:
  • p:
    Correct. Amount of light would decrease to zero as θ goes to 90°, whether arguing from "parallel vs. crossed passage" model; and/or Malus' law cos2θ factor in the fraction transmitted through second polarizer, with respect to the 50% that passed through the first polarizer. May misinterpret diagram as depicting θ = 45° as the start, through which the final angle would be θ = 135° ("90° more").
  • r:
    As (p), but argument indirectly, weakly, or only by definition supports the statement to be proven, or has minor inconsistencies or loopholes.
  • t:
    Nearly correct, but argument has conceptual errors, or is incomplete.
  • v:
    Limited relevant discussion of supporting evidence of at least some merit, but in an inconsistent or unclear manner.
  • x:
    Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit.
  • y:
    Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
  • z:
    Blank.
Grading distribution:
Section 31988
p: 12 students
r: 1 student
t: 0 students
v: 0 students
x: 0 students
y: 0 students
z: 0 students

A sample "p" response (from student 7676):
Another sample "p" response (from student 1230), using the diagram as the starting angle to rotate through by 90°:

20100315

Astronomy midterm question: wider or longer telescope?

Astronomy 210 Midterm 1, spring semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

[20 points.] Decide whether the diameter, or the length of an optical telescope would be more important in making a decision on a new purchase (or if they would be equally important). Explain why in terms of the properties of telescopes and telescope powers.

Solution and grading rubric:
  • p = 20/20:
    Correct. Discusses how diameter of primary lens/mirror determines the light-gathering power and resolving power, while the (focal) length determines the magnifying power, the latter of which is the least important due to priority given to collecting light that will result in bright, resolvable images worth magnifying.
  • r = 16/20:
    Nearly correct (explanation weak, unclear or only nearly complete); includes extraneous/tangential information; or has minor errors. Explains how light-gathering power and resolving power depend on diameter and discusses their priority, but does not adequately explain magnification and/or why it would be less important. Or correctly discusses how diameter and length affect respective telescope powers, but gives equal priority to magnification with light-gathering power and resolving power.
  • t = 12/20:
    Contains right ideas, but discussion is unclear/incomplete or contains major errors.
  • v = 8/20:
    Limited relevant discussion of supporting evidence of at least some merit, but in an inconsistent or unclear manner. May confound length and diameter dependence of telescope powers, but generally holds magnification less important than light-gathering and resolving powers.
  • x = 4/20:
    Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit. Primarily makes a decision without substantive discussion of relevant telescope powers.
  • y = 2/20:
    Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
  • z = 0/20:
    Blank.
Grading distribution:
Section 30674
p: 19 students
r: 11 students
t: 0 students
v: 11 students
x: 3 students
y: 0 students
z: 0 students

Section 30676
p: 33 students
r: 11 students
t: 14 students
v: 16 students
x: 7 students
y: 0 students
z: 1 student

A sample "p" response (from student 0928):

Another sample "p" response (from student 1187):

Another sample "p" response (from student 4733), averring that "wider is better":

Another sample "p" response (from student 1802):

Another sample "p" response (from student ):

Another sample "p" response (from student 0002), with interesting priorities and qualifiers:


Another sample "p" response (from student 0165), illustrating the lament and remorse of an uninformed telescope buyer in comic strip format:


A sample "r" response (from student 6924):