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 reviewing the history of astronomy, Kepler's and Newton's laws, and telescope powers.
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.
"I originally thought planets move around the sun in a perfect circle, however after reading I discovered it is actually in an ellipse pattern. It was interesting that after so many years of school, the simplest fact was unknown to me in astronomy."
"The way that planets, when looked at them in retrograde motion, they seem to rotate on their own orbits when orbiting on the actual orbit around the sun. But it's because we are passing them at a faster speed."
"The info on how to buy a telescope was interesting, my grandpa owned one but I never put much thought into what went into purchasing one."
"That planets move faster when they are closer to the sun and slower with they are further. And that they move in an elliptical shape."
"From all the prior classes I have taken, I have always been told that Galileo was the first person to look through the telescope and invent it, so it was interesting to me that, that wasn't the case at all. He was in fact the first person to look at the sky carefully and apply his observations to theories." "
Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"When we see the rate of the planet moving along an elliptical orbit, it goes noticeably faster or slower. What causes a planet to go much faster when it's closest to the sun, compared to the other sections of the orbit?"
"Keeping the astronomers straight."
"I feel as if I cannot describe Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. I think I understand them, but I would not be able to teach them to anyone else."
"I found everything very confusing in this chapter. All sections were extremely dense and it was hard to follow what was important and what wasn't (as stated earlier). Even focusing on who was a mover/disprover or scientist/non-scientist was confusing because so many of the astronomers' concepts overlapped and built off of each other I wasn't sure who was credited with what, for instance, Copernicus versus Galileo. Overall more specific instruction on what is important to focus on and what just needs to be understood would be very helpful."
"What I found confusing was Kepler's three laws of motion. To be honest most of the words and descriptions went straight over my head, like how to draw an ellipse."
"A lot of things about the telescopes were kind of confusing."
When a planet is undergoing retrograde motion, over several nights it moves __________ with respect to the background stars.
east to west. ****************************  west to east. **************  (Either of the above choices is possible.) **  (Unsure/lost/guessing/help!) * 
When a planet is undergoing prograde motion, over several nights it moves __________ with respect to the background stars.
east to west. **************  west to east. ***************************  (Either of the above choices is possible.) ***  (Unsure/lost/guessing/help!) * 
The __________ powers of a telescope depends on the: (Only correct responses shown.)
light-gathering power: diameter of the primary lens/mirror [69%]
resolving power: diameter of the primary lens/mirror [64%]
magnifying power: both the focal lengths of the primary lens/mirror and eyepiece: [29%]
The least important feature to consider when purchasing an optical telescope is the __________ of its images.
brightness. ******  resolution. **  magnification. *****************************  (Two of the above choices.) ***  (Unsure/lost/guessing/help!) ***** 
Briefly explain your answer for the least important feature to consider when purchasing an optical telescope.
"The magnification is the least important because light-gathering and resolving powers are fundamental properties of a telescope that can't be altered, whereas magnifying power can be changed by simply changing the eyepiece."
"Magnification is the least important feature to consider because it just makes the image larger, it doesn't make it more clear or more bright."
"The magnification just makes the image dim and fuzzy when it blows them up if there wasn't a lot of light-gathering power and resolving power in the first place."
Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"Can we review the quiz and why so many people failed it? I thought that I was at least going to pass, considering the amount of studying I did." (Discussion of selected quiz questions are posted on my blog (linked to under "Goals > Quiz 1 > spring 2015"). Also you should review and redo your quiz, as Quiz 3 and the first midterm will reuse questions from the first quiz. And I know that quiz scores for this class tend to be low, so that's why you can drop your three lowest (or missed) quizzes, and also at the end of the semester everyone typically gets perfect (or nearly) perfect online reading assignment and in-class activity scores, to balance things out. And there's always extra-credit later on this semester.)
I learned if you don't do the reading the homework is hard." (Damn straight.)
"If Venus has phases like the moon, do all the planets?" (Yes, but the outer planets only have gibbous phases, as seen from Earth.)
"What kind of telescope do you own? Do you have a telescope at your house you use regularly?" (I can always just go to either campus and use one of the Cuesta College telescopes.)
"I think I'm going to look into getting a telescope now." (And so this is my fault?)
"Where am I?" (Wherever you go, there you are. But seriously, you can look up your grades relative to the rest of the class online.)