## 20120304

### Education research: SASS and student learning outcomes (Cuesta College, fall semester 2011)

Student achievement of course learning outcomes are assessed by administering an Student Assessment of Skills Survey (SASS), a five-point Likert scale questionnaire (Patrick M. Len, in development) to Astronomy 210 students at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA. This is a one-semester, introductory astronomy course (with an optional adjunct laboratory), and is taken primarily by students to satisfy their general education science transfer requirement.

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

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

`Cuesta CollegeStudent Assessment of Skills Survey (SASS) Astronomy 210 fall semester 2011 sections 70158, 70169N = 51The questions below are designed to characterize your achievement of each of the learning outcomes by filling in a bubble on the rating scale provided to the right of each statement. Mark the level of achievement that best describes your learning at the completion of the course.1. Predict positions and cycles of stars, using a starwheel.(Achieved: 94%, unachieved: 6%)1. Very poor          0 : 2. Below average      3 : ***3. Average           16 : ****************4. Above average     16 : ****************  [3.9 +/- 0.9]5. Excellent         15 : ***************2. Explain sun cycles and seasons.(Achieved: 94%, unachieved: 6%)  1. Very poor          0 : 2. Below average      3 : ***3. Average           14 : **************4. Above average     25 : *************************  [3.8 +/- 0.8]5. Excellent          8 : ********3. Explain and predict lunar phases and times. (Achieved: 92%, unachieved: 8%)  1. Very poor          0 : 2. Below average      4 : ****3. Average           15 : ***************4. Above average     16 : ****************  [3.8 +/- 0.9]5. Excellent         15 : ***************4. Relate planets in the sky to a solar system map. (Achieved: 80%, unachieved: 20%)  1. Very poor          1 : *2. Below average      9 : *********3. Average           15 : ***************4. Above average     18 : ******************  [3.4 +/- 1.0]5. Excellent          7 : *******5. Explain differences between models of planetary motion. (Achieved: 86%, unachieved: 14%)  1. Very poor          1 : *2. Below average      6 : ******3. Average           20 : ********************  [3.5 +/- 1.0]4. Above average     12 : ************5. Excellent         10 : **********6. Explain evidence for the heliocentric model of planetary motion. (Achieved: 86%, unachieved: 15%)  1. Very poor          1 : *2. Below average      6 : ******3. Average           12 : ************4. Above average     22 : **********************  [3.6 +/- 1.0]5. Excellent          9 : *********7. Describe how optical telescopes work. (Achieved: 78%, unachieved: 22%)  1. Very poor          2 : **2. Below average      9 : *********3. Average           17 : *****************  [3.4 +/- 1.1]4. Above average     12 : ************5. Excellent         10 : **********8. Describe different powers of optical telescopes. (Achieved: 80%, unachieved: 20%)  1. Very poor          3 : ***2. Below average      7 : *******3. Average           16 : ****************  [3.4 +/- 1.2]4. Above average     15 : ***************5. Excellent          9 : *********9. Explain which telescopes should be funded based on relevant criteria.(Achieved: 86%, unachieved: 14%)  1. Very poor          1 : *2. Below average      6 : ******3. Average            9 : *********4. Above average     17 : *****************  [3.9 +/- 1.0]5. Excellent         17 : *****************10. Explain how stars produce energy. (Achieved: 98%, umachieved: 2%)  1. Very poor          0 : 2. Below average      1 : *3. Average           20 : ********************4. Above average     21 : *********************  [3.7 +/- 0.7]5. Excellent          7 : *******11. Explain the relationship between star brightness and distances. (Achieved: 90%, unachieved: 10%)  1. Very poor          0 : 2. Below average      5 : *****3. Average           15 : ***************4. Above average     15 : ***************  [3.8 +/- 1.0]5. Excellent         15 : ***************12. Predict the size of a star based on brightness and temperature. (Achieved: 90%, unachieved: 10%)  1. Very poor          1 : *2. Below average      4 : ****3. Average           12 : ************4. Above average     18 : ******************  [3.8 +/- 1.0]5. Excellent         15 : ***************13. Explain different stages a star will go through, based on its mass. (Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 12%)  1. Very poor          1 : *2. Below average      5 : *****3. Average           11 : ***********4. Above average     22 : **********************  [3.7 +/- 1.0]5. Excellent         11 : ***********14. Explain evidence for the shape/size/composition of our Milky Way galaxy.(Achieved: 90%, unachieved: 10%)  1. Very poor          1 : *2. Below average      4 : ****3. Average           23 : ***********************  [3.5 +/- 0.9]4. Above average     14 : **************5. Excellent          8 : ********15. Explain evidence for how our Milky Way galaxy came to be. (Achieved: 90%, unachieved: 10%)  1. Very poor          2 : **2. Below average      3 : ***3. Average           25 : *************************  [3.4 +/- 1.0]4. Above average     12 : ************5. Excellent          8 : ********16. Explain how the speed of light affects observations of distant objects.(Achieved: 86%, unachieved: 14%)  1. Very poor          2 : **2. Below average      5 : *****3. Average           15 : ***************  [3.7 +/- 1.1]4. Above average     14 : **************5. Excellent         14 : **************17. Explain evidence for the expansion of the universe. (Achieved: 90%, unachieved: 10%)  1. Very poor          0 : 2. Below average      5 : *****3. Average           18 : *****************  [3.7 +/- 0.9]4. Above average     16 : ****************5. Excellent         11 : ***********18. Describe characteristics of the universe a long time ago. (Achieved: 96%, unachieved: 4%)  1. Very poor          0 : 2. Below average      2 : **3. Average           24 : ************************  [3.5 +/- 0.7]4. Above average     19 : *******************5. Excellent          5 : *****19. Explain evidence for how our solar system came to be. (Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 12%)  1. Very poor          0 : 2. Below average      6 : ******3. Average           19 : *******************  [3.5 +/- 0.9]4. Above average     17 : *****************5. Excellent          8 : ********20. Describe key features of terrestrial planets. (Achieved: 98%, unachieved: 2%)  1. Very poor          0 : 2. Below average      1 : *3. Average           14 : **************4. Above average     19 : *******************  [4.0 +/- 0.8]5. Excellent         16 : ****************21. Describe key features of jovian planets. (Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 12%)  1. Very poor          1 : 2. Below average      5 : *****3. Average           14 : **************4. Above average     16 : ****************  [3.7 +/- 1.0]5. Excellent         14 : **************22. Explain why Pluto is not currently categorized as a planet. (Achieved: 96%, unachieved: 4%)  1. Very poor          1 : *2. Below average      1 : *3. Average           10 : **********4. Above average     21 : *********************  [4.0 +/- 0.9]5. Excellent         17 : *****************23. Describe plausible requirements for life. (Achieved: 100%, unachieved: 0%)  1. Very poor          0 : 2. Below average      0 : 3. Average           12 : ************4. Above average     24 : ************************  [4.0 +/- 0.7]5. Excellent         14 : **************24. Explain difficulties in investigating the possibility for extraterrestial life.(Achieved: 92%, unachieved: 8%)  1. Very poor          0 : 2. Below average      4 : ****3. Average           14 : **************4. Above average     16 : ****************  [3.9 +/- 1.0]5. Excellent         16 : ****************`

Of the 24 student learning outcomes in the SASS, 21 were self-reported as being achieved by at least 85% of students, listed below in order of decreasing success:
23. Describe plausible requirements for life. (100%)
20. Describe key features of terrestrial planets. (98%)
10. Explain how stars produce energy. (98%)
18. Describe characteristics of the universe a long time ago. (96%)
22. Explain why Pluto is not currently categorized as a planet. (96%)
1. Predict positions and cycles of stars, using a starwheel. (94%)
2. Explain sun cycles and seasons. (94%)
3. Explain and predict lunar phases and times. (92%)
24. Explain difficulties in investigating the possibility for extraterrestial life. (92%)
11. Explain the relationship between star brightness and distances. (90%)
12. Predict the size of a star based on brightness and temperature. (90%)
14. Explain evidence for the shape/size/composition of our Milky Way galaxy. (90%)
15. Explain evidence for how our Milky Way galaxy came to be. (90%)
17. Explain evidence for the expansion of the universe. (90%)
13. Explain different stages a star will go through, based on its mass. (88%)
19. Explain evidence for how our solar system came to be. (88%)
21. Describe key features of jovian planets. (88%)
5. Explain differences between models of planetary motion. (86%)
9. Explain which telescopes should be funded based on relevant criteria. (86%)
6. Explain evidence for the heliocentric model of planetary motion. (86%)
16. Explain how the speed of light affects observations of distant objects. (86%)

As discussed in a previous post, student learning outcomes 10, 11, 12, and 13 for Cuesta College students were directly assessed using the Star Properties Concept Inventory (SPCI, Janelle M. Bailey, "Development of a Concept Inventory to Assess Students' Understanding and Reasoning Difficulties about the Properties and Formation of Stars," Astronomy Education Review, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 133–139, August 2007), and scores were found to be comparable to results from 1,100 large research university students that have completed introductory astronomy and earth sciences courses.

However, three student learning outcomes were self-reported as being achieved by less than 85% of students, listed below in order of decreasing success:
4. Relate planets in the sky to a solar system map. (80%)
8. Describe different powers of optical telescopes. (80%)
7. Describe how optical telescopes work. (78%)

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

Previous posts: