20131228

Education research: SASS, FCI and student learning outcomes assessment (Cuesta College, fall semester 2013)

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 Physics 205A students at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA. This is first semester of a two-semester introductory physics course (college physics, algebra-based, mandatory adjunct laboratory).

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. Listed are the percentages 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 College
Student Assessment of Skills Survey (SASS)
Physics 205A fall semester 2013
Sections 70854, 70855, 73320
N = 72

The 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. Describe and quantify motion (kinematics), and apply Newton's laws to describe how forces affect motion (mechanics). (E.g. analyze forces acting on an object with a free-body diagram, and determine subsequent motion given initial conditions.)
(Achieved: 90%, unachieved: 10%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ******* [7]
Average.  ************************************ [36]
Above average.  ********************* [21]
Excellent.  ******** [8]

2. Describe and apply conservation laws of energy, linear momentum, and angular momentum to quantify the initial-to-final evolution of systems of objects. (E.g. determine final state of a system of objects given initial conditions and in-process exchanges, by deciding which relevant objects to include in a system in order to implement appropriate conservation law(s).)
(Achieved: 82%, unachieved: 18%)
Very poor.  *** [3]
Below average.  ********** [10]
Average.  ************************************ [36]
Above average.  ****************** [18]
Excellent.  ***** [5]

3. Describe and quantify different types of oscillations and waves, and the physical principles of these phenomena. (E.g. explain/predict the experience of disturbances of different media.)
(Achieved: 67%, unachieved: 33%)
Very poor.  ** [2]
Below average.  ********************** [22]
Average.  *********************** [23]
Above average.  ******************** [20]
Excellent.  ***** [5]

4. Describe and apply the laws of thermodynamics to quantify the initial-to-final evolution of microscopic and macroscopic systems of gases, fluids, and solids. (E.g. determine the final state of a gas/fluid/solid, given initial conditions and in-process exchanges, by implementing appropriate conservation law(s).)
(Achieved: 78%, unachieved: 12%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  **************** [16]
Average.  *************************** [27]
Above average.  ************************** [26]
Excellent.  *** [3]

Of the four student learning outcomes in the SASS, one were self-reported as being achieved by at least 85% of students:
1. Describe and quantify motion (kinematics), and apply Newton's laws to describe how forces affect motion (mechanics). (90%)
However, four student learning outcomes were self-reported as being achieved by less than 85% of students, listed below in order of decreasing success:
2. Describe and apply conservation laws of energy, linear momentum, and angular momentum to quantify the initial-to-final evolution of systems of objects. (84%)
4. Describe and apply the laws of thermodynamics to quantify the initial-to-final evolution of microscopic and macroscopic systems of gases, fluids, and solids. (78%)
3. Describe and quantify different types of oscillations and waves, and the physical principles of these phenomena. (67%)
The mastery of applying Newton's laws to describe how forces affect motion in student learning outcome 1 for Cuesta College students is also directly assessed using the Force Concept Inventory Evaluation (David Hestenes, Malcolm Wells, and Gregg Swackhamer, Arizona State University).

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

20131218

Astronomy final exam question: Comet C/2012 S1 ("ISON") just before perihelion

Astronomy 210 Final Exam, fall semester 2013
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

An observing guide to spotting Comet ISON was published[*] before it fragmented and vaporized during its close pass to the sun. Explain how this diagram is consistent with the fact that Comet ISON was closer to the sun than Mercury[**] for late November 2013. Support your answer using a diagram showing the positions of the sun, Comet ISON, Mercury, and an observer on Earth.

[*] Joe Rao, "Comet ISON's Thanksgiving Sun Encounter: An Observer's Guide," November 23, 2013, http://www.space.com/23713-comet-ison-observers-guide-thanksgiving.html.
[**] "0.084 AU—Comet ISON’s forecasted distance from the sun on November 28, 2013, Mercury is 0.39 ± 0.09 AU from the sun," http://www.cometisonnews.com/distance/.

Solution and grading rubric:
  • p = 20/20:
    Correct. Correct and complete diagram, with the sun, Mercury, Comet ISON, and an observer on Earth); shows and discusses how Comet ISON would be closer to the sun than Mercury on this diagram, consistent with the sunrise view given.
  • r = 16/20:
    Nearly correct (explanation weak, unclear or only nearly complete); includes extraneous/tangential information; or has minor errors. Diagram and/or explanation has minor errors.
  • t = 12/20: Contains right ideas, but discussion is unclear/incomplete or contains major errors. Problems with either diagram or discussion. At least understands that Mercury and Comet ISON must be just above the sun when the sun is at (or just below) a horizon.
  • v = 8/20:
    Limited relevant discussion of supporting evidence of at least some merit, but in an inconsistent or unclear manner. Diagram and discussion problematic.
  • x = 4/20:
    Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit. Misconceptions or non-relevant concepts.
  • y = 2/20:
    Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
  • z = 0/20:
    Blank.
Grading distribution:
Section 70158
Exam code: finals0oB
p: 15 students
r: 3 students
t: 10 students
v: 4 students
x: 4 students
y: 2 students
z: 1 student

A sample "p" response (from student 0527):

Astronomy final exam question: comparing distances of two stars

Astronomy 210 Final Exam, fall semester 2013
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

An astronomy question on an online discussion board[*] was asked and answered:
linkinhardyy: Two stars, A and B, have apparent magnitudes +1 and +3 and absolute visual magnitudes +3 and +1, respectively. Which is closer to Earth?
balbes: A is closer than B.
Discuss why this answer is correct, and how you know this. Explain using the properties and evolution of stars.

[*] Adapted from http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080825115842AAgL23C.

Solution and grading rubric:
  • p = 20/20:
    Correct. Understands (1) difference between apparent magnitude m (brightness as seen from Earth, when placed at their actual distance from Earth) and absolute visual magnitude (MV (brightness as seen from Earth, when placed 10 parsecs away), and (2) discusses how star A appears to be bright at its location, but is dimmer when placed 10 parsecs away, and how star B appears to be dim, but is brighter when placed 10 parsecs away, thus star A is closer than star B (being located closer than 10 parsecs, and farther from 10 parsecs, respectively).
  • r = 16/20:
    Nearly correct (explanation weak, unclear or only nearly complete); includes extraneous/tangential information; or has minor errors. Typically discusses how star A is closer than 10 parsecs, but does not explicitly discuss how star B is farther than 10 parsecs.
  • 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. Limited relevant discussion of supporting evidence of at least some merit, but in an inconsistent or unclear manner. At least attempts to use relationships between apparent magnitudes, absolute visual magnitudes, and distances.
  • x = 4/20:
    Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit. Discussion not based on apparent magnitudes, absolute visual magnitudes, and distances.
  • y = 2/20:
    Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
  • z = 0/20:
    Blank.
Grading distribution:
Section 70160
Exam code: finaln4A6
p: 14 students
r: 2 students
t: 3 students
v: 2 students
x: 2 students
y: 0 students
z: 2 students

A sample "p" response (from student 1012):

Another sample "p" response (from student 2691):

Astronomy final exam question: metallicity of modern-day type II supernovae?

Astronomy 210 Final Exam, fall semester 2013
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

An astronomy question on an online discussion board[*] was asked and answered:
Pd: Are all of the stars that go type II supernova today metal-rich? Or metal-poor?
Ri: Nearby type II supernovae will in general be of relatively high metallicity.
Discuss why this answer is correct, and how you know this. Explain using the properties and evolution of stars.

[*] answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20131124104506AAsacIr.

Solution and grading rubric:
  • p:
    Correct. Understands that:
    1. older stars are metal-poor having formed from essentially just hydrogen, while newer stars are metal-rich, having formed from hydrogen enriched with metals produced by previous generation stars;
    2. type II supernovae are the end-stage of massive stars, which have evolved rapidly (having short main-sequence lifetimes), such that they had formed very recently, are thus are metal-rich.
  • r:
    Nearly correct (explanation weak, unclear or only nearly complete); includes extraneous/tangential information; or has minor errors. One of the two points (1)-(2) correct, other is problematic/incomplete.
  • t: Contains right ideas, but discussion is unclear/incomplete or contains major errors. Both points (1)-(2) problematic/incomplete, or one point correct while other is missing. Typically discusses how type II supernovae today are metal-rich relative to the composition when they first formed because of metal production within the star during its supergiant and type II supernovae phases (as opposed to being metal-rich relative to type II supernovae in the past).
  • v:
    Limited relevant discussion of supporting evidence of at least some merit, but in an inconsistent or unclear manner. Garbled discussion of properties and evolution of stars, such as breaking down of metals; masses and evolution rates.
  • x:
    Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit. Discussion not based on metallicity and evolution rates of stars.
  • y:
    Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
  • z:
    Blank.
Grading distribution:
Section 70158
Exam code: finals0oB
p: 17 students
r: 9 students
t: 4 students
v: 5 students
x: 3 students
y: 1 student
z: 0 students

Section 70160
Exam code: finaln4A6
p: 5 students
r: 9 students
t: 7 students
v: 1 student
x: 1 student
y: 1 student
z: 1 student

A sample "p" response (from student 0507):

A sample "p" response (from student 2441):

A sample "t" response (from student 1456):

A sample "v" response (from student 2979):

Astronomy final exam question: "edge" of the universe?

Astronomy 210 Final Exam, fall semester 2013
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

An astronomy question on an online discussion board[*] was asked and answered:
?: Is there an edge to all of the galaxies in the universe?
Nick: The galaxies could go on forever, but we wouldn't ever be able to see the rest of them. We've basically seen as far as we'll ever see, because we can't see any galaxies further than about 14 billion light years away.
Discuss why this answer is correct, and how you know this. Explain using the properties of the speed of light, stellar evolution, and galaxies.

[*] Adapted from http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110218090525AAf19m6.

Solution and grading rubric:
  • p:
    Correct. Recognizes how (1) light travels at a finite speed, so looking further out will see further back in time (look-back time); and why not seeing any galaxies further than approximately 14 billion light years out is an indication that the universe has a finite age of approximately 14 billion years (Olbers' paradox).
  • r:
    Nearly correct (explanation weak, unclear or only nearly complete); includes extraneous/tangential information; or has minor errors. One of the two points (1)-(2) correct, other is problematic/incomplete.
  • t: Contains right ideas, but discussion is unclear/incomplete or contains major errors. Both points (1)-(2) problematic/incomplete, or one point correct while other is missing.
  • 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. Discusses factors other than relevant to the speed of light, and Olbers' paradox.
  • y:
    Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
  • z:
    Blank.
Grading distribution:
Section 70158
Exam code: finals0oB
p: 18 students
r: 5 students
t: 8 students
v: 1 student
x: 4 students
y: 3 students
z: 0 students

Section 70160
Exam code: finaln4A6
p: 8 students
r: 3 students
t: 5 students
v: 4 students
x: 4 students
y: 0 students
z: 1 student

A sample "p" response (from student 0615):

A sample "y" response (from student 0221):

20131217

Education research: SASS, SPCI and student learning outcomes assessment (Cuesta College, fall semester 2013)

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), and 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) 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 SPCI is administered in class during the last week of instruction.

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 College
Student Assessment of Skills Survey (SASS)
Astronomy 210 fall semester 2013 sections 70158[*], 70160
N = 50
[*] Questions (20)-(22) were not covered for this section, and results from these students (N = 32) are not posted below.

The 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%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  *** [3]
Average.  *************** [15]
Above average.  *********************** [23]
Excellent.  ********* [9]

2. Explain sun cycles and seasons.
(Achieved: 98%, unachieved: 2%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  * [1]
Average.  ***************** [17]
Above average.  ************************ [24]
Excellent.  ******** [8]

3. Explain and predict lunar phases and times.
(Achieved: 90%, unachieved: 10%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ***** [5]
Average.  ************ [17]
Above average.  *************** [15]
Excellent.  ************* [13]

4. Relate planets in the sky to a solar system map.
(Achieved: 90%, unachieved: 10%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  **** [4]
Average.  *************************** [27]
Above average.  ***************** [17]
Excellent.  * [1]

5. Explain differences between models of planetary motion.
(Achieved: 90%, unachieved: 10%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  **** [4]
Average.  ************************* [25]
Above average.  **************** [16]
Excellent.  **** [4]

6. Explain evidence for the heliocentric model of planetary motion.
(Achieved: 80%, unachieved: 20%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ********** [10]
Average.  ***************** [17]
Above average.  ***************** [17]
Excellent.  ****** [6]

7. Describe how optical telescopes work.
(Achieved: 90%, unachieved: 10%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  **** [4]
Average.  ********************* [21]
Above average.  ******************* [19]
Excellent.  ***** [5]

8. Describe different powers of optical telescopes.
(Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 12%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ***** [5]
Average.  ******************** [20]
Above average.  ****************** [18]
Excellent.  ******** [8]

9. Explain which telescopes should be funded based on relevant criteria.
(Achieved: 82%, unachieved: 18%)
Very poor.  ** [2]
Below average.  ******* [7]
Average.  **************** [16]
Above average.  ****************** [18]
Excellent.  ******* [7]

10. Explain how stars produce energy.
(Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 12%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ****** [6]
Average.  ****************** [18]
Above average.  **************** [16]
Excellent.  ********** [10]

11. Explain the relationship between star brightness and distances.
(Achieved: 96%, unachieved: 4%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ** [2]
Average.  ************** [14]
Above average.  ********************** [22]
Excellent.  ******* [12]

12. Predict the size of a star based on brightness and temperature.
(Achieved: 96%, unachieved: 4%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ** [2]
Average.  **************** [16]
Above average.  ******************** [20]
Excellent.  ************ [12]

13. Explain different stages a star will go through, based on its mass.
(Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 12%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ****** [6]
Average.  ******************* [19]
Above average.  *************** [15]
Excellent.  ********** [10]

14. Explain evidence for the shape/size/composition of our Milky Way galaxy.
(Achieved: 82%, unachieved: 18%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ********* [9]
Average.  ************************** [26]
Above average.  *************** [15]
Excellent.  [0]

15. Explain evidence for how our Milky Way galaxy came to be.
(Achieved: 78%, unachieved: 22%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  *********** [11]
Average.  ************************* [25]
Above average.  ************ [12]
Excellent.  ** [2]

16. Explain how the speed of light affects observations of distant objects.
(Achieved: 90%, unachieved: 10%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ***** [5]
Average.  ************************* [25]
Above average.  ************** [14]
Excellent.  ****** [6]

17. Explain evidence for the expansion of the universe.
(Achieved: 84%, unachieved: 16%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ******* [7]
Average.  ********************* [21]
Above average.  ***************** [17]
Excellent.  **** [4]

18. Describe characteristics of the universe a long time ago.
(Achieved: 80%, unachieved: 20%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ********* [9]
Average.  *********************** [23]
Above average.  ************** [14]
Excellent.  *** [3]

19. Explain evidence for how our solar system came to be.
(Achieved: 94%, unachieved: 6%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  *** [3]
Average.  ****** [6]
Above average.  ******* [7]
Excellent.  * [1]

20. Describe key features of terrestrial planets.
(Achieved: 94%, unachieved: 6%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  * [1]
Average.  ***** [5]
Above average.  ********** [10]
Excellent.  ** [2]

21. Describe key features of jovian planets.
(Achieved: 100%, unachieved: 0%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  [0]
Average.  ****** [6]
Above average.  ********* [9]
Excellent.  ** [2]

22. Explain why Pluto is not currently categorized as a planet.
(Achieved: 94%, unachieved: 6%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  [0]
Average.  **** [4]
Above average.  **** [4]
Excellent.  ********** [10]

23. Describe plausible requirements for life.
(Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 12%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ****** [6]
Average.  ****************** [18]
Above average.  ******************* [19]
Excellent.  ******* [7]

24. Explain difficulties in investigating the possibility for extraterrestial life.
(Achieved: 85%, unachieved: 14%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ******* [7]
Average.  ****************** [18]
Above average.  **************** [16]
Excellent.  ********* [9]

Of the 24 student learning outcomes in the SASS, 18 were self-reported as being achieved by at least 85% of students, listed below in order of decreasing success:
21. Describe key features of jovian planets. (100%)
2. Explain sun cycles and seasons. (98%)
11. Explain the relationship between star brightness and distances. (96%)
12. Predict the size of a star based on brightness and temperature. (96%)
1. Predict positions and cycles of stars, using a starwheel. (94%)
19. Explain evidence for how our solar system came to be. (94%)
20. Describe key features of terrestrial planets. (94%)
22. Explain why Pluto is not currently categorized as a planet. (94%)
3. Explain and predict lunar phases and times. (90%)
4. Relate planets in the sky to a solar system map. (90%)
5. Explain differences between models of planetary motion. (90%)
7. Describe how optical telescopes work. (90%)
16. Explain how the speed of light affects observations of distant objects. (90%)
8. Describe different powers of optical telescopes. (88%)
10. Explain how stars produce energy. (88%)
13. Explain different stages a star will go through, based on its mass. (88%)
23. Describe plausible requirements for life. (88%)
24. Explain difficulties in investigating the possibility for extraterrestial life. (85%)

However, six student learning outcomes were self-reported as being achieved by less than 85% of students, listed below in order of decreasing success:
17. Explain evidence for the expansion of the universe. (84%)
9. Explain which telescopes should be funded based on relevant criteria. (82%)
14. Explain evidence for the shape/size/composition of our Milky Way galaxy. (82%)
6. Explain evidence for the heliocentric model of planetary motion. (80%)
18. Describe characteristics of the universe a long time ago. (80%)
15. Explain evidence for how our Milky Way galaxy came to be. (78%)

Compare these student learning outcomes self-reported as not being achieved (6, 9, 14, 15, 17, 18) those from a previous semesters (spring semester 2012: (6, 18); fall semester 2011: (4, 7, 8)).

Student learning outcomes 10, 11, 12, and 13 for Cuesta College students were directly assessed using the Star Properties Concept Inventory (excluding negative informed consent form responses):
Star Properties Concept Inventory v3.0
Astronomy 210 fall semester 2013 sections 70158, 70160
N = 56
ave ± stdev = 52% ± 13%
These SPCI scores are comparable to results from 1,100 large research university students that have completed introductory astronomy and earth sciences courses (Bailey, 2007), where the average was 51% (no further statistics provided); and also comparable to SPCI results from earlier semesters at Cuesta College.

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:

20131216

Cuesta College District Calendar Committee: faculty feedback on compressed calendar proposal

Cuesta College District Calendar Committee
Faculty feedback form on compressed calendar proposal
(fall semester 2013)
N = 96

Background: The District Calendar Committee would like to gauge faculty interest on considering a compressed calendar (wherein the students have more contact with instructors per day, for fewer days or weeks, with the same amount of instructional time as the existing 18-week calendar) at Cuesta College. Please answer the following question. Are you in favor of exploring a compressed calendar at Cuesta College?

Yes.  *************************
  *************************
  ************************* [75]
 
No (leave semester length the same at 18 weeks).  ******************* [19]
 
No opinion/not sure.  ** [2]

The following are all of the optional comments to this survey, verbatim and unedited.
"The 18 week calendar is too long to keep the focus of students and material in my area could be covered in a shorter time frame."

"I'm on the fence. I can see the challenges in scheduling that a compressed calendar presents for nursing and science. Please take a look at the final report from Santa Rosa Junior College. They started their analysis in 2009 and have just forwarded their report to their union(s) and district negotiating teams. The link to the report is at the top of the following page: http://www.santarosa.edu/afa/senate_home.shtml."

"It is very difficult for our nursing division to compress our calendar."

"Many, if not most of our students have difficulty maintaining the focus required to be successfull for 18 weeks."

"I am speaking from a counselor's perspective and feel that more in-class time would leave less time in student's schedules to see counselors and other support people they need to be successful."

"I would consider all possible 16 week models, not necessarily trying to squeeze the same number of hours we currently teach in 18 weeks down to 16. In other words, do some schools teach 16 weeks with fewer hours than we do with 18? Is there a standard or required number of hours? Maybe there is another model with almost the same number of hours that would be easier to schedule. Either way it will require redesigning courses, and having the EXACT same number of hours will not necessarily be required to make it possible."

"The impact/contractual ramifications on service faculty."

"I think it's a great idea. A 16 week schedule makes the most sense."

"The evidence on attention spans suggests greatly diminishing returns for simply increasing contact time per instructional day. Moreover, for students juggling work and school, compressing the calendar often works to their disadvantage, as they would need to spend more hours in school in a given week, while also having more homework per week under a compressed schedule. I must enter a resounding 'No' vote on this one!"

"No concerns, just enthusiasm!!!"

"Align to semester CSU campuses."

"18 weeks is no longer cost effective. 3.0 unit lecture classes can easily be complete in 15 weeks"

"We should look closely at how other college's use the 16-week semester system. Has Cuesta lost students to Hancock because students prefer a shorter semester?"

"This sounds like another cost-cutting measure put forth by administrators and even some faculty who are fixated on the bottom line. While I understand we must live within our means and meet apportionment goals, education is not a business and trying to run a college like a business only does a disservice to our students. If it was cheap and easy to get an education, everyone would have a Ph.D., but they would be meaningless degrees. It is our responsibility as educators to teach our students critical thinking skills and to appreciate all aspects of their education because no one truly knows what will be relevant to their future daily lives and what will not, but all of it will contribute to a forward thinking society. Long story short, compressing the calendar so students can receive the Cliff Notes version of their education is wrong. Make no mistake, I understand that students will have the 'same amount of instruction per the 18-week calendar,' but they will not have the same amount of time to learn."

"Compressed calendar would impact our cycle in Student Services; which things would need to be shorter and a much quicker turn around will be required by the faculty which they can't meet the deadline today."

"I like the idea of fewer weeks for a class, but I am concerned that it will go too fast for my basic skills class."

"Although I thnk a compressed calendar will present challenges, I believe it will attract more students"

"16-week would be good for having more intersessions."

"No reservations or concerns. 18 weeks is WAY to long."

"It seems like we are one of the few colleges that have not already done this!"

"I encourage the committee to consider a 16-week calendar. Thank you!"

"We already have block classes of 2 1/2 hours each."

"I am in favor of a compressed calendar (16 weeks) IF the number of in-class contact (instructional) hours do not increase. Having more office hours time each week is fine though."

"I will send my comments under separate cover to the calendar committee: to many for this survey"

"I think that more information should be given to faculty regarding how much longer their classes would be on a given day in order to make an informed decision."

"I teach at night (most of our students work in the day), and our classes are very long (6:30-9:15pm) A compressed calendar would make the classes even longer, which I don't think would be good for students. There's only so much you can learn/absorb in one sitting."

"The room schedules are already impacted enough without adding time to each class period. I think the results of this survey will be overwhelmingly towards a short semester but that is because most faculty don't have experience with shorter semesters and scheduling rooms. Without providing an example of what the humanities forum or a math classroom might look like with a shortened semester, this survey is fatally flawed."

"Due to Cuesta's flex calendar we already have a 'compressed' calendar. Currently students (and instructors) are 'in-class' for only 16 weeks per semester (plus one week of finals). Cuesta Fall 2013: Note: Although there are 17 'calendar weeks' of instruction in the fall, for all practical purposes there are only 16 'instructional weeks' because there are five non-instructional days embedded in the 17 weeks: October 11, 14, 15 and November 28 and 29. Cuesta Spring 2014: In the spring semester the 16 'instructional weeks' are easily identifiable. I am curious to find out what a 15 week-semester at Cuesta would include. One week for flex? One week for finals? Leaving 13 weeks of instruction? After comparing actual 'instructional weeks' (excluding finals week) of various proposals it will be easier to make an informed decision. In my opinion, cutting 'instructional weeks' by one week (as Hancock seems to have done) and loosing flex time is not worth the trouble it may cause for some divisions."

"It's difficult enough to cover all of the topics in the COR in 18 weeks, less would be overwhelming for students."

"counselors/dsps etc."

"Align Cuesta with the majority of college semester schools. Cal Poly administration is saying that they will align to semesters by the end of the decade."

"Will all of the classes fit into existing rooms on Mon-Friday within a reasonable timeframe??"

"I would LOVE a 16 week calendar, an 18 week just drags on.... and on....."

"None at all! Our students need this!!!"

20131214

Education research: SMQ results (Cuesta College, fall semester 2013)

Student attitudes were assessed using the Science Motivation Questionnaire (SMQ), a 30-question, five-point Likert scale questionnaire that measures six attitude subscales, each scored out of a maximum of 30 points (Glynn, Taasoobshirazi, & Brickman, 2009):
  1. Intrinsically motivated science learning;
  2. Extrinsically motivated science learning;
  3. Personal relevance of learning science;
  4. Self-determination to learn science;
  5. Self-efficacy for learning science;
  6. Anxiety about science assessment (reversed-coded for scoring).
The SMQ was administered as a pre-test on the first day of class, and as a post-test on the last day of class.

Cuesta College
Astronomy 210 fall semester 2013 sections 70158, 70160
(N = 52, matched pairs only, excluding negative informed consent form responses)

Int. Motiv.    Ext. Motiv.    Relevance    Self-determ.    Self-effic.    Anxiety    Total/150    
Initial     19 ± 4 18 ± 3 16 ± 4 20 ± 3 20 ± 4 14 ± 3 108 ± 14
Final     19 ± 4 18 ± 3 16 ± 4 18 ± 3 18 ± 4 15 ± 4 105 ± 16
matched-pair Hake gains:
<g> -0.06 -0.09 -0.07 -0.21 -0.22 0 -0.17
stdev ±0.31 ± 0.34 ±0.32 ±0.37 ±0.41 ±0.24 ±0.53
class-wide Hake gains:
<g> -0.03 -0.03 -0.02 -0.14 -0.16 +0.03 -0.08

Little or no difference for all subscales and the total score from pre- to post-instruction, for both sections combined. This is comparable to a previous semester's SMQ findings, and six previous semesters' results at Cuesta College of the Survey of Attitudes Towards Astronomy (SATA), a 34-question, five-point Likert scale questionnaire that measures four attitude subscales (Zeilik & Morris, 2003). Previous semesters' SMQ, SATA results:
References:
  • Glynn, S. M., Taasoobshirazi, G., & Brickman, P. (2009), "Science Motivation Questionnaire: Construct Validation with Nonscience Majors," Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46, 127-146 (*.html).
  • Science Motivation Questionnaire (SMQ) website (*.html).
  • Zeilik, M. & Morris, V. J. (2003), "An Examination of Misconceptions in an Astronomy Course for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Majors," Astronomy Education Review, 2(1), 101 (*.html).

Education research: formative SASS student learning outcomes assessment (Cuesta College, fall semester 2013, second midterm)

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 Physics 205A students at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA. This is the first semester of a two-semester introductory physics course (college physics, algebra-based, mandatory adjunct laboratory).

Different sections of the SASS are administered online just before each of two midterms, and the final exam.

The SASS results from the second midterm of the semester are compiled below. Values for the mean and standard deviations are given next to the modal response category for each question. Listed are the percentages 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 College
Student Assessment of Skills Survey (SASS)
Physics 205A fall semester 2013
Sections 70854, 70855, 73320
N = 56

The 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 this time.

1. Apply work and energy conservation to analyze initial-to-final state systems.
(Achieved: 77%, unachieved: 23%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ************ [12]
Average.  ******************************* [31]
Above average.  *********** [11]
Excellent.  * [1]

2. Relate the impulse exerted on an object to its resulting change in momentum.
(Achieved: 77%, unachieved: 23%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ************ [12]
Average.  ********************************* [33]
Above average.  ********** [9]
Excellent.  * [1]

3. Apply appropriate momentum conservation and kinetic energy conservation laws to analyze different types of collisions.
(Achieved: 84%, unachieved: 16%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ******** [8]
Average.  *************************** [27]
Above average.  ******************* [19]
Excellent.  * [1]

4. Calculate the rotational inertia of an object using standardized shapes, or as an assembly of standardized shapes.
(Achieved: 61%, unachieved: 39%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ********************* [21]
Average.  *********************** [23]
Above average.  ********** [10]
Excellent.  * [1]

5. Calculate torques due to forces, using Fr form.
(Achieved: 54%, unachieved: 46%)
Very poor.  ***** [5]
Below average.  ********************* [21]
Average.  ***************** [17]
Above average.  ******** [8]
Excellent.  ***** [5]

6. Apply Newton's first law for translational and rotational motion to determine the conditions required for static equilibrium.
(Achieved: 62%, unachieved: 38%)
Very poor.  *** [3]
Below average.  ****************** [18]
Average.  ********************** [22]
Above average.  ********** [10]
Excellent.  *** [3]

7. Apply energy conservation to analyze systems with rolling/rotating objects.
(Achieved: 64%, unachieved: 36%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ******************* [19]
Average.  ************************** [26]
Above average.  ******** [8]
Excellent.  ** [2]

8. Relate forces due to pressures, and pressure differences between locations in static fluids.
(Achieved: 84%, unachieved: 16%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ********* [9]
Average.  ******************************** [32]
Above average.  ************* [13]
Excellent.  ** [2]

9. Use the properties of the buoyant force to analyze floating and submerged objects.
(Achieved: 80%, unachieved: 20%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  *********** [11]
Average.  ************************** [26]
Above average.  ************* [13]
Excellent.  ****** [6]

10. Apply appropriate conservation laws (continuity and Bernoulli's equation) to analyze ideal fluid flow.
(Achieved: 77%, unachieved: 23%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ************ [12]
Average.  ************************* [25]
Above average.  **************** [16]
Excellent.  ** [2]

11. Apply Hooke's law to relate compressive/tensile stress to the resulting strain for elastic non-destructive deformation.
(Achieved: 70%, unachieved: 30%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  **************** [16]
Average.  **************************** [28]
Above average.  ********* [9]
Excellent.  ** [2]

12. Apply Newton's laws and energy conservation to analyze the objects undergoing simple harmonic motion.
(Achieved: 66%, unachieved: 34%)
Very poor.  ***** [5]
Below average.  ************** [14]
Average.  *************************** [27]
Above average.  ********* [9]
Excellent.  * [1]

13. Relate the properties of a mass-spring system or simple pendulum to its period, or frequency.
(Achieved: 77%, unachieved: 23%)
Very poor.  ** [2]
Below average.  *********** [11]
Average.  ***************************** [29]
Above average.  ************ [12]
Excellent.  ** [2]

14. Understand the relationship between string wave properties and parameters (frequency, speed, velocity, etc.).
(Achieved: 82%, unachieved: 18%)
Very poor.  *** [3]
Below average.  ******* [7]
Average.  ******************************* [31]
Above average.  ************* [13]
Excellent.  ** [2]

15. Understand how string standing waves arise from resonance, their node/antinode patterns, and parameters that affect these resonant frequencies.
(Achieved: 71%, unachieved: 29%)
Very poor.  *** [3]
Below average.  ************* [13]
Average.  ****************************** [30]
Above average.  ******** [8]
Excellent.  ** [2]

16. Relate how the speed of sound changes due to changes in air temperature.
(Achieved: 77%, unachieved: 23%)
Very poor.  *** [3]
Below average.  ********** [10]
Average.  ************************* [25]
Above average.  ************ [17]
Excellent.  * [1]

17. Understand the relationship between sound wave properties and parameters (frequency, speed, velocity, etc.).
(Achieved: 75%, unachieved: 25%)
Very poor.  *** [3]
Below average.  *********** [11]
Average.  ************************* [25]
Above average.  **** [14]
Excellent.  *** [3]

18. Understand how sound standing waves arise from resonance, their node/antinode patterns, and parameters that affect these resonant frequencies.
(Achieved: 73%, unachieved: 27%)
Very poor.  ***** [5]
Below average.  ********** [10]
Average.  ******************************* [31]
Above average.  ******* [7]
Excellent.  *** [3]

Of the 18 student learning outcomes in this section of the SASS, none were self-reported as being achieved by at least 85% of students, listed below in order of decreasing success:
3. Apply appropriate momentum conservation and kinetic energy conservation laws to analyze different types of collisions. (84%)
8. Relate forces due to pressures, and pressure differences between locations in static fluids. (84%)
14. Understand the relationship between string wave properties and parameters (frequency, speed, velocity, etc.). (82%)
9. Use the properties of the buoyant force to analyze floating and submerged objects. (80%)
1. Apply work and energy conservation to analyze initial-to-final state systems. (77%)
2. Relate the impulse exerted on an object to its resulting change in momentum. (77%)
10. Apply appropriate conservation laws (continuity and Bernoulli's equation) to analyze ideal fluid flow. (77%)
13. Relate the properties of a mass-spring system or simple pendulum to its period, or frequency. (77%)
16. Relate how the speed of sound changes due to changes in air temperature. (77%)
17. Understand the relationship between sound wave properties and parameters (frequency, speed, velocity, etc.). (75%)
18. Understand how sound standing waves arise from resonance, their node/antinode patterns, and parameters that affect these resonant frequencies. (73%)
15. Understand how string standing waves arise from resonance, their node/antinode patterns, and parameters that affect these resonant frequencies. (71%)
11. Apply Hooke's law to relate compressive/tensile stress to the resulting strain for elastic non-destructive deformation. (70%)
12. Apply Newton's laws and energy conservation to analyze the objects undergoing simple harmonic motion. (66%)
7. Apply energy conservation to analyze systems with rolling/rotating objects. (64%)
6. Apply Newton's first law for translational and rotational motion to determine the conditions required for static equilibrium. (62%)
4. Calculate the rotational inertia of an object using standardized shapes, or as an assembly of standardized shapes. (61%)
5. Calculate torques due to forces, using Fr form. (54%)

Since this section of the SASS is administered before the second midterm, it should be considered a formative rather than summative form of self-assessment.

Education research: MPEX pre- and post-instruction results (Cuesta College, fall semester 2013)

The Maryland Physics Expectations survey (MPEX, Redish, Saul, and Steinberg, 1998) was administered to Cuesta College Physics 205A (college physics, algebra-based, mandatory adjunct laboratory) students at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA. The MPEX was given during the first week of the semester, and then on the last week of the semester, to quantify student attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions about physics using six question categories, rating responses as either favorable or unfavorable towards:
  1. Independence--beliefs about learning physics--whether it means receiving information or involves an active process of reconstructing one's own understanding;
  2. Coherence--beliefs about the structure of physics knowledge--as a collection of isolated pieces or as a single coherent system;
  3. Concepts--beliefs about the content of physics knowledge--as formulas or as concepts that underlie the formulas;
  4. Reality Link--beliefs about the connection between physics and reality--whether physics is unrelated to experiences outside the classroom or whether it is useful to think about them together;
  5. Math Link--beliefs about the role of mathematics in learning physics--whether the mathematical formalism is used as a way of representing information about physical phenomena or mathematics is just used to calculate numbers;
  6. Effort--beliefs about the kind of activities and work necessary to make sense out of physics--whether they expect to think carefully and evaluate what they are doing based on available materials and feedback or not.
Cuesta College
Physics 205A fall semester 2013 sections 70854, 70855, 73320
San Luis Obispo, CA campus
(N = 45, matched pairs, excluding negative informed consent form responses)

Percentage of (favorable:unfavorable) responses
Overall   Independence   Coherence   Concepts   Reality link   Math link   Effort   
Initial   57:2046:2148:3052:2671:1051:1870:08
Final   52:2543:2144:3251:2875:0957:2553:23

Previous posts:

20131213

Physics quiz question: aluminum versus uranium expansion

Physics 205A Quiz 7, fall semester 2013
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e Problems 13.14, 13.21

"A nuclear fuel pellet..."
Idaho National Laboratory
inlportal.inl.gov/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1269&mode=2&featurestory=DA_528176.

A cylindrical uranium fuel pellet used in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Graphite Reactor is 2.5 cm in diameter, and is encased in a jacket of aluminum[*]. Assume that this measurement is at the maximum reactor operating temperature of 535 K. To ensure that the uranium fuel pellet will have a smaller diameter than the interior diameter of the aluminum jacket as they both gradually cool down, aluminum was selected as it has a linear expansion coefficient __________ the linear expansion coefficient of uranium.
(A) less than.
(B) exactly equal to.
(C) greater than.
(D) (Not enough information is given.)

[*] C. D. Cagle, The ORNL Graphite Reactor, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (1957), p. 11, web.ornl.gov/info/reports/1957/3445605702068.pdf.

Correct answer (highlight to unhide): (A)

The relative amount of linear expansion is given by:

L/L = α·∆T,

where L is the original linear dimension (in this case, diameter) at the original temperature, and ∆L is the amount of linear expansion (if temperature increases) or contraction (if temperature decreases).

A linear expansion coefficient α of zero means that the object will neither expand nor contract with changes in temperature. A small linear expansion coefficient means the object will experience a small amount of expansion/contraction for a given change in temperature, and a large linear expansion coefficient means the object will experience a large amount of expansion/contraction for the same change in temperature. Since the uranium pellet experiences a larger amount of contraction than the aluminum jacket as temperature decreases for both of them, then uranium has a larger linear expansion coefficient, and aluminum must have a smaller linear expansion coefficient.

Sections 70854, 70855, 73320
Exam code: quiz07b0o7
(A) : 30 students
(B) : 4 students
(C) : 25 students
(D) : 0 students

Success level: 51%
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.32

Physics quiz question: comparing changes in internal energies

Physics 205A Quiz 7, fall semester 2013
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e Practice Problem 14.5, Comprehensive Problem 14.75

A 0.50 kg iron sample at 90.0° C is placed into a container with 5.00 kg of water. The iron and water are allowed to reach a final temperature of 80.0° C. Ignore the effects of evaporation and phase changes, and heat exchanged with the environment and container. Specific heat of iron is 440 J/(kg·K). Specific heat of water is 4,190 J/(kg·K). After reaching thermal equilibrium, the __________ had the greatest change in internal energy.
(A) iron sample.
(B) water.
(C) (There is a tie.)
(D) (Not enough information is given.)

Correct answer (highlight to unhide): (C)

The transfer/balance energy conservation equation for this system is given by:

Qext = ∆Eiron + ∆Ewater,

where for an isolated system, Qext = 0, such that:

0 = miron·ciron·(80.0° C – 90.0° C) + mwater·cwater·(80.0° C – Twater, i),

which can be subsequently solved for the initial water temperature Twater, i = 79.894988067° C, or 79.9° C to three significant figures. While this means that the iron experienced a much larger temperature change than the water, the iron experienced the same amount of thermal internal energy change (a decrease) as the change in thermal internal energy of the water (an increase). This can be seen by looking back on the transfer/balance energy conservation equation:

0 = ∆Eiron + ∆Ewater,

–∆Eiron = ∆Ewater.

Sections 70854, 70855, 73320
Exam code: quiz07b0o7
(A) : 17 students
(B) : 24 students
(C) : 17 students
(D) : 1 student

Success level: 29%
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.62

Physics quiz question: thermal conductivity of book-insulation

Physics 205A Quiz 7, fall semester 2013
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e Problem 14.55, Comprehensive Problem 14.85

"Artifacts of our civilization forever trapped in sedimentary layers"
David Cameron, The Blockhouse School Project
theblockhouseschool.org/2012/12/book-insulation/

In December 2012, over a thousand discarded research journals were stacked by the Blockhouse School Project to make a 0.30 m thick insulating wall 6.7 m wide and 2.0 m tall[*]. The builders claim that the thermal resistance of the wall is approximately 0.16 K/watts. The thermal conductivity of the wall is:
(A) 0.0036 watts/(m·K).
(B) 0.022 watts/(m·K).
(C) 0.14 watts/(m·K).
(D) 160 watts/(m·K)

[*] theblockhouseschool.org/2012/12/book-insulation/.

Correct answer (highlight to unhide): (C)

The thermal resistance R of an object can be related to its thermal conductivity κ by:

R = d/(κ·A),

where d is the thickness of the object that heat must conduct through, and A is the cross-sectional area, such that the thermal conductivity can be solved for:

κ = d/(R·A),

κ = (0.30 m)/((0.16 K/watts)·(6.7 m)·(2.0 m)) = 0.1399253731 watts/(m·K),

or to two significant figures, the thermal conductivity of the wall is 0.14 watts/(m·K).

(Response (A) is R·d/A; response (B) is d/A; response (D) is ∆T/R.)

Sections 70854, 70855, 73320
Exam code: quiz07b0o7
(A) : 13 students
(B) : 9 students
(C) : 31 students
(D) : 5 students

Success level: 53%
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.55

Physics quiz question: temperature of plutonium sphere radiating heat

Physics 205A Quiz 7, fall semester 2013
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e Problem 14.65

"Plutonium pellet"
Department of Energy
wki.pe/File:Plutonium_pellet.jpg

An 8.0 kg sample of weapons-grade plutonium radiates approximately 70 watts[*]. The emissivity of plutonium is 0.55[**]. Assume that the environment is 273 K, and that the sample has a surface area of 0.026 m2. The temperature of the plutonium sample is:
(A) 550 K.
(B) 740 K.
(C) 820 K.
(D) 4,900 K.

[*] Theodore A. Parish, V. V. Khromov, and Igor Carron, eds., Safety Issues Associated With Plutonium Involvement in the Nuclear Fuel Cycle, Kluwer (1999), p. 81, goo.gl/3XRE5C.
[**] Thermophysical Properties of Materials for Nuclear Engineering: A Tutorial and Collection of Data, International Atomic Energy Agency (2008), p. 36, www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/IAEA-THPH_web.pdf.

Correct answer (highlight to unhide): (A)

The power (rate of heat per time) radiated is given by:

Power = –e·σ·A·((Tobj)4 – (Tenv)4),

where a negative value for power (here, "–70 watts") corresponds to a net amount of heat being removed (radiated) from the object, while a positive value corresponds to a net amount of heat being put into (absorbed) by the object (in order to be consistent with the ±Q convention for removing heat from (–) or putting heat into (+) a thermodynamic system). Solving for the temperature Tobj of the plutonium sphere:

((–Power/(e·σ·A)) + (Tenv)4))(1/4) = Tobj,

such that:

Tobj = ((–(–70 watts)/((0.55)·(5.670×10–8 watts/(m2·K4))·(0.026 m2)) + (273 K)4)(1/4),

Tobj = (+8.6333419667×1010 K4 + 0.5554571841×1010 K4)(1/4),

Tobj = (9.1887991508×1010 K4)(1/4),

Tobj = 550.5727209 K,

or to two significant figures, the temperature of the plutonium sphere is 550 K.

(Response (B) is (Power/(σ·A))(1/4) + Tenv; response (C) is (Power/(e·σ·A))(1/4) + Tenv; response (D) is Power/(e·A).)

Sections 70854, 70855, 73320
Exam code: quiz07b0o7
(A) : 28 students
(B) : 13 students
(C) : 16 students
(D) : 2 students

Success level: 47%
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.54

20131212

FCI post-test comparison: Cuesta College versus UC-Davis (fall semester 2013)

Students at both Cuesta College (San Luis Obispo, CA) and the University of California at Davis were administered the 30-question Force Concept Inventory (David Hestenes, et al.) during the last week of instruction.

Cuesta College
Physics 205A
Fall semester 2013    
UC-Davis
Physics 7B
Summer session II 2002
N54 students*76 students*
low  3  3
mean    12.3 ± 6.512.9 ± 5.5
high2926

*Excludes students with negative informed consent forms (*.pdf)

Student's t-test of the null hypothesis results in p = 0.58 (t = 0.559, sdev = 5.91, degrees of freedom = 128), thus there is no significant difference between Cuesta College and UC-Davis FCI post-test scores.

The pre- to post-test gain for this semester at Cuesta College is:

Physics 205A fall semester 2013 sections 70854, 70855, 73320
<initial%>= 31% ± 18% (N = 76)
<final%>= 41% ± 22% (N = 54)
<g>= 0.17 ± 0.25 (matched-pairs); 0.15 (class-wise)

This Hake gain is slightly lower than previous semesters' results for algebra-based introductory physics at Cuesta College (0.25-0.33), but comparable to previous gains for algebra-based introductory physics at UC-Davis (0.16), and for calculus-based introductory physics at Cuesta College (0.14-0.16), as discussed in previous postings on this blog.

Notable about this Physics 205A class at Cuesta College during this fall 2013 semester is the requirement that students read and answer questions on the textbook and lecture slides before coming to lecture (in a "flipped classroom"), instructor discussion in-class based on answering student questions and concerns submitted online previous to lecture, in-class problem-solving sessions, and the continuing use (since fall semester 2011) of flashcards rather than electronic response system "clickers" (Classroom Performance System, einstruction.com), to engage in "think-pair-share" (peer-instruction).

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

Previous FCI results:

20131211

Physics quiz archive: temperature, thermal equilibrium, heat transfer

Physics 205A Quiz 7, fall semester 2013
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA
Sections 70854, 70855, 73320, version 1
Exam code: quiz07b0o7



Sections 70854, 70855, 73320 results
0- 6 :   ** [low = 6]
7-12 :   ****
13-18 :   ****************************** [mean = 18.5 +/- 4.8]
19-24 :   ********************
25-30 :   *** [high = 30]

20131210

Astronomy quiz question: production of helium in the sun's core

Astronomy 210 Quiz 7, fall semester 2013
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Fusion reactions in the sun's core produced the:
(A) helium in the sun's core.
(B) carbon in your body.
(C) calcium in your bones.
(D) iron in your blood.
(E) (More than one of the above choices.)
(F) (None of the above choices.)

Correct answer (highlight to unhide): (A)

The helium in the core of the sun is produced primarily from the fusion of hydrogen during its main-sequence lifetime (with a small percentage of this helium produced during the nucleosynthesis phase of the early universe). The sun will eventually produce carbon from fusion during its giant phase, and does not have enough mass to produce calcium and iron from fusion as would a massive star during its supergiant phase. The "metals" (carbon, calcium, and iron) must have been produced by a earlier-generation medium-mass or massive star that have undergone a type Ia or type II supernova explosion, respectively, in order to release these atoms that were eventually incorporated into the formation of our sun, our solar system's planets, and our bodies.

Section 70158
Exam code: quiz07s5Sz
(A) : 26 students
(B) : 0 students
(C) : 2 students
(D) : 0 students
(E) : 14 students
(F) : 2 students

Success level: 63% (including partial credit for multiple-choice)
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.82

Section 70160
Exam code: quiz07nMN7
(A) : 11 students
(B) : 0 students
(C) : 0 students
(D) : 0 students
(E) : 12 students
(F) : 2 students

Success level: 50% (including partial credit for multiple-choice)
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.21

Astronomy quiz question: metal-rich vs. metal-poor stars

Astronomy 210 Quiz 7, fall semester 2013
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Older stars are metal-poor, while newer stars are metal-rich because:
(A) older stars have longer lifetimes.
(B) older stars break down their metals.
(C) newer stars contain less dark matter.
(D) newer stars contain metals produced by older stars.

Correct answer (highlight to unhide): (D)

Stars produce metals (elements heavier than hydrogen and helium) in their cores during their giant/supergiant phases, up through type Ia/II supernovae explosions. Along with their unused hydrogen, these metals are then scattered into the interstellar medium, which are then incorporated into later generations of stars. An old, early generation star will have metals only in its core, while a young, later generation star will have metals sprinkled in its outer layers as well as in the core.

Section 70158
Exam code: quiz07s5Sz
(A) : 1 student
(B) : 7 students
(C) : 0 students
(D) : 36 students

Success level: 83% (including partial credit for multiple-choice)
Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.27

Astronomy quiz archive: Milky Way, cosmology

Astronomy 210 Quiz 7, fall semester 2013
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Section 70158, version 1
Exam code: quiz07s5Sz

Section 70158
0- 8.0 : ** [low = 5.0]
8.5-16.0 : *******
16.5-24.0 : ************* [mean = 24.9 +/- 9.7]
24.5-32.0 : *********
32.5-40.0 : ************ [high = 40.0]


Section 70160, version 1
Exam code: quiz07nMN7

Section 70160
0- 8.0 : * [low = 7.5]
8.5-16.0 : ****
16.5-24.0 : ********* [mean = 23.0- +/- 6.6]
24.5-32.0 : ********
32.5-40.0 : *** [high = 33.0]

20131209

Online reading assignment: origin of life, are we alone? (NC campus)

Astronomy 210, fall semester 2013
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 on reading textbook chapters and previewing presentations on the origin of life and the extraterrestrial hypothesis.

Selected/edited responses are given below.

Describe something you found interesting from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally interesting for you.
"Well the 'Here is Today' presentation was mind blowing. When you don't usually think about the day as far as what is in the past and how far civilization has come, it really trips you out when you do think about it."

"The Drake equation is really fascinating because it is so complicated and it answers an impossible question with just as impossible to obtain data."

"I found it interesting that it took billions of years for the simplest form of life to arise from atoms and molecules."

"That according to scientist no aliens have ever visited Earth. I think that's interesting because there are things on Earth that we can't explain, and I think aliens had something to with."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"I didn't really get the Drake equation. It doesn't seem like it would work."

"I'm not really sure how the LEGO® washing has to do with what we are learning? That's a really cool experiment though!"

"The term 'Goldilocks' planets."

"I found it interesting that Julia Child was cooking the 'primordial soup' not in her usual cook books."

"I found the 1974 Arecibo message because it sounds crazy to expect something to decode the message and send a message back."

Briefly describe a difference between life and non-living things.
"Living things have emotion. Non-living things do not. A chair for example would not be offended if you threw it at a wall, but a cat would."

"Life is when an organism extracts energy from its surrounding and uses that to live on, while non living things are they chemicals that mimic life by have yet to impact their environment."

How important is it to you to know whether or not there may be life elsewhere other than on Earth?
Unimportant.  [0]
Of little importance.  *** [3]
Somewhat important.  * [1]
Important.  ** [2]
Very important.  ******* [7]

Briefly explain your answer regarding the importance of knowing whether there may be life elsewhere other than on Earth.
"It would be awesome to know of meet another intelligent life form. It be fun to attempt to converse or communicate with something different but on the same level as us."

"If there is that would be cool, if there isn't then it's okay."

"Because it is almost impossible to determine this."

"Other life forms may show our world a better less harmful way of living."

"So that we may understand the universe better and ourselves better, as living creatures."

"What if we are being experimented by aliens? :0"

Which type of star would be least likely to have a planet that could support life?
Massive.  ******* [7]
Medium-mass.  ** [2]
Low-mass (red dwarf).  * [1]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  *** [3]

Briefly explain your answer to the previous question (type of star least likely to have a planet that could support life).
"I did not see this in the reading...and I wasn't sure!"

"Because life on Earth took about a billion years to form, which, assuming that life will take the same amount of time to form, rules out massive short-living stars."

Describe what the Drake equation is used for.
"To estimate how many technological civilizations are in the Milky Way."

"How can we assume that theres life out there with just an equation?"

"How can we use something like the Drake equation when several factors are pieces that cannot be determined?"

"I don't understand how according to the Drake equation there should be communicative civilizations within a few tens of light-years, and we've transmitting radio signals for almost a hundred yet we still haven't received any messages from other civilizations."

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"Since we can look in the sky and see the past, where can we look to see the future? Besides the mirror LOL."