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 runaway planets (Venus and Mars), jovian planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune), and the dwarf planets (and the International Astronomy Union classification scheme).
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.
"How extremely harsh Venus' atmosphere is, mostly because how Venus is said to be supposedly similar to Earth (even though I understand why that is said)."
"I finally know why Pluto is not longer a planet due to its size and location."
"Venus is superhot and Mars is cold."
"The different landscapes of terrestrial planets."
"The outer planets of the solar system are called jovian planets because they resemble Jupiter."
"Jupiter's atmosphere. I can't even imagine what it would be like falling from the sky and not distinctly touching something (and know you're touching something different). You just drown on air that all of a sudden got thick."
"I didn't know Venus might have once had water."
"The reasoning why Pluto isn't a planet. I didn't know that a planet had to be large enough to dominate and gravitationally clear its orbital region of most or of all other objects."
Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"I don't understand why Jupiter has always been called a 'gas giant' when in fact it's mostly liquid."
"I thought all the greenhouse factors became confusing after I read all the different kinds there are for each planet."
"I don't clearly understand how Pluto doesn't meet the IAU criteria."
"Planet atmospheres. What makes others different from ours and how it got to be that way."
"I understood this sections more than other sections because it was just talking about the planets. Mostly just looking at the diagrams in the book confuse me."
Identify the relative amounts of these characteristics for Venus, compared to Earth. (Only correct responses shown.)
Volcanic outgassing, up until now: about the same as Earth [53%]
Heat from the sun: more than Earth [88%]
Amount of atmosphere, today: more than Earth [60%]
Interior core heat, today: about the same as Earth [40%]
Geologic activity, today: less than Earth [23%]
Identify the relative amounts of these characteristics for Mars, compared to Earth. (Only correct responses shown.)
Volcanic outgassing, up until now: less than Earth [68%]
Heat from the sun: less than Earth [80%]
Amount of atmosphere, today: less than Earth [83%]
Interior core heat, today: less than Earth [88%]
Geologic activity, today: less than Earth [68%]
Which jovian planet has the coolest interior temperatures?
Jupiter (most massive).   ***  Saturn (most prominent rings).   ****  Uranus (least active weather patterns).   *****************  Neptune (farthest from the sun).   **************  (Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)   ** 
I believe Pluto should be a planet.
Strongly disagree.   ****  Disagree.   ********  Neutral.   **************  Agree.   ***********  Strongly Agree.   *** 
Briefly explain your answer to the previous question (whether Pluto should be a planet).
"It was originally said to be a planet for so long, I don't think it was okay for them to just change it."
"I solely base this on my terrible experience as a child of having a planet torn away from me."
"Although Pluto is a 'dwarf planet' it should still be considered a planet."
"Whether Pluto is a planet or not, does not effect my daily life so I'm indifferent."
"Pluto is not big enough to clear its own orbit."
"I was taught that Pluto was a planet, but there has to be rules to govern what is a planet and what isn't. So, in order to keep all of the new findings in order...there has to be order."
Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"Do you think Pluto should be a planet? And why do you hate Pluto?" (It's not personal--simply, life is just not supposed to be fair.)