20150529

Education research: MPEX pre- and post-instruction results (Cuesta College, spring semester 2015)

The Maryland Physics Expectations survey (MPEX, Redish, Saul, and Steinberg, 1998) was administered to Cuesta College Physics 205B (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 205B spring semester 2015 sections 30884, 30885
San Luis Obispo, CA campus
(N = 39, matched pairs, excluding negative informed consent form responses)

Percentage of (favorable:unfavorable) responses
Overall   Independence   Coherence   Concepts   Reality link   Math link   Effort   
Initial   57:2346:1748:3058:3071:1554:1965:19
Final   52:2738:2641:3454:2860:2051:2256:23

Previous posts:

Education research: SASS, ECCE and student learning outcomes assessment (Cuesta College, spring semester 2015)

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 a shortened version (22 out of 45 questions) of the Electric Circuit Concept Evaluation (David Sokoloff, University of Oregon) to Physics 205B students at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA. This is the second 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 ECCE 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)
Physics 205B spring semester 2015 sections 30882, 30883
N = 37

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. Quantify the frequency, speed and wavelength of light.
(Achieved: 96%, unachieved: 4%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  * [1]
Average.  **************** [16]
Above average.  ******* [7]
Excellent.  * [1]

2. Analyze the polarization of light.
(Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 12%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  *** [3]
Average.  ********** [10]
Above average.  ********** [10]
Excellent.  ** [2]

3. Analyze reflection, refraction, and total internal reflection.
(Achieved: 92%, unachieved: 8%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ** [2]
Average.  ************* [13]
Above average.  ********* [9]
Excellent.  * [1]

4. Analyze images produced by lenses.
(Achieved: 96%, unachieved: 4%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  * [1]
Average.  ************** [14]
Above average.  ********* [9]
Excellent.  * [1]

5. Understand optical systems such as cameras, eyes, simple magnifiers, microscopes and telescopes operate.
(Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 12%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ** [2]
Average.  ************* [13]
Above average.  ******** [8]
Excellent.  * [1]

6. Analyze the constructive/destructive interference of waves.
(Achieved: 96%, unachieved: 4%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  * [1]
Average.  ********* [9]
Above average.  ************ [12]
Excellent.  ** [2]

7. Understand how double-slits produce constructive/destructive interference.
(Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 12%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  *** [3]
Average.  *************** [15]
Above average.  ****** [6]
Excellent.  * [1]

8. Analyze the diffraction produced by a single-slit.
(Achieved: 92%, unachieved: 8%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ** [2]
Average.  ******************* [19]
Above average.  *** [3]
Excellent.  * [1]

9. Understand how charges behave differently in conductors and insulators.
(Achieved: 64%, unachieved: 36%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ********* [9]
Average.  *********** [11]
Above average.  ***** [5]
Excellent.  [0]

10. Understand how a source charge exerts a force on a test charge (the direct model).
(Achieved: 83%, unachieved: 17%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  **** [4]
Average.  ************ [12]
Above average.  ******* [7]
Excellent.  * [1]

11. Analyze the electric force exerted on a test charge by several source charges.
(Achieved: 84%, unachieved: 16%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  **** [4]
Average.  *************** [15]
Above average.  ****** [6]
Excellent.  [0]

12. Understand how a source charge creates an electric field, which exerts a force on a test charge (the two-step field model).
(Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 12%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  *** [3]
Average.  ************ [12]
Above average.  ********** [10]
Excellent.  [0]

13. Analyze the electric field created by several source charges.
(Achieved: 84%, unachieved: 16%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  **** [4]
Average.  *********** [11]
Above average.  ********** [10]
Excellent.  [0]

14. Understand the relationship between electric potential and electric potential energy.
(Achieved: 92%, unachieved: 8%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ************ [2]
Average.  *********** [11]
Above average.  *********** [11]
Excellent.  * [1]

15. Analyze the characteristics of parallel plate capacitors.
(Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 12%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  *** [3]
Average.  **** [4]
Above average.  *************** [15]
Excellent.  *** [3]

16. Quantify (using Ohm's law) the resistance, electric potential difference, and current of a circuit element.
(Achieved: 100%, unachieved: 0%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  [0]
Average.  ********* [9]
Above average.  ************* [13]
Excellent.  ** [2]

17. Understand how to reduce configurations of resistors to an equivalent resistance.
(Achieved: 92%, unachieved: 8%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ** [2]
Average.  ************** [14]
Above average.  ****** [6]
Excellent.  *** [3]

18. Understand how to apply Kirchhoff's circuit rules (the junction rule and the loop rule).
(Achieved: 84%, unachieved: 16%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  **** [4]
Average.  *********** [11]
Above average.  ******* [7]
Excellent.  *** [3]

19. Analyze the power used or supplied by circuit elements.
(Achieved: 84%, unachieved: 16%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  **** [4]
Average.  ************** [14]
Above average.  **** [4]
Excellent.  *** [3]

20. Understand how a source magnet or current-carrying wire creates a magnetic field, which exerts a force on a moving charge or current-carrying wire (the two-step field model).
(Achieved: 92%, unachieved: 8%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ** [2]
Average.  ************* [13]
Above average.  ****** [6]
Excellent.  **** [4]

21. Analyze the direction of a magnetic fields and forces using the appropriate right-hand rules.
(Achieved: 100%, unachieved: 0%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  [0]
Average.  *********** [11]
Above average.  ********* [9]
Excellent.  **** [4]

22. Understand how generators work.
(Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 13%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  *** [3]
Average.  ******** [13]
Above average.  ******* [7]
Excellent.  * [1]

23. Understand how changing the magnetic flux through a wire loop produces an induced emf and an induced current (Faraday's law and Lenz's law).
(Achieved: 92%, unachieved: 8%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ** [2]
Average.  ************* [13]
Above average.  ********* [9]
Excellent.  * [1]

24. Analyze the step-up and step-down behavior of transformers.
(Achieved: 80%, unachieved: 20%)
Very poor.  [0]
Below average.  ***** [5]
Average.  ************** [14]
Above average.  *** [3]
Excellent.  *** [3]

25. Understand the conditions for stability and instability in atomic nuclei.
(Achieved: 75%, unachieved: 25%)
Very poor.  * [1]
Below average.  ***** [5]
Average.  *********** [11]
Above average.  ****** [6]
Excellent.  * [1]

26. Analyze various radioactive decay processes (alpha, beta-plus, beta-minus, electron capture, and gamma).
(Achieved: 83%, unachieved: 17%)
Very poor.  ** [2]
Below average.  ** [2]
Average.  *********** [11]
Above average.  ******* [7]
Excellent.  ** [2]

27. Analyze the time-dependent nature of radioactive decay activity.
(Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 12%)
Very poor.  ** [2]
Below average.  * [1]
Average.  **************** [16]
Above average.  ***** [5]
Excellent.  * [1]

28. Understand how Feynman diagrams are used to depict fundamental subatomic processes and interactions.
(Achieved: 68%, unachieved: 32%)
Very poor.  ** [2]
Below average.  ****** [6]
Average.  ************ [12]
Above average.  **** [4]
Excellent.  * [1]

Of the 28 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:
16. Quantify (using Ohm's law) the resistance, electric potential difference, and current of a circuit element. (100%)
21. Analyze the direction of a magnetic fields and forces using the appropriate right-hand rules. (100%)
1. Quantify the frequency, speed and wavelength of light. (96%)
4. Analyze images produced by lenses. (96%)
6. Analyze the constructive/destructive interference of waves. (96%)
3. Analyze reflection, refraction, and total internal reflection. (92%)
8. Analyze the diffraction produced by a single-slit. (92%)
23. Understand how changing the magnetic flux through a wire loop produces an induced emf and an induced current (Faraday's law and Lenz's law). (92%)
14. Understand the relationship between electric potential and electric potential energy. (92%)
17. Understand how to reduce configurations of resistors to an equivalent resistance. (92%)
20. Understand how a source magnet or current-carrying wire creates a magnetic field, which exerts a force on a moving charge or current-carrying wire (the two-step field model). (92%)
2. Analyze the polarization of light. (88%)
5. Understand optical systems such as cameras, eyes, simple magnifiers, microscopes and telescopes operate. (88%)
7. Understand how double-slits produce constructive/destructive interference. (88%)
12. Understand how a source charge creates an electric field, which exerts a force on a test charge (the two-step field model). (88%)
15. Analyze the characteristics of parallel plate capacitors. (88%)
22. Understand how generators work. (88%)
27. Analyze the time-dependent nature of radioactive decay activity. (88%)

However, 10 student learning outcomes were self-reported as being achieved by less than 85% of students, listed below in order of decreasing success:
11. Analyze the electric force exerted on a test charge by several source charges. (84%)
13. Analyze the electric field created by several source charges. (84%)
18. Understand how to apply Kirchhoff's circuit rules (the junction rule and the loop rule). (84%)
19. Analyze the power used or supplied by circuit elements. (84%)
10. Understand how a source charge exerts a force on a test charge (the direct model). (83%)
26. Analyze various radioactive decay processes (alpha, beta-plus, beta-minus, electron capture, and gamma). (83%)
24. Analyze the step-up and step-down behavior of transformers. (80%)
25. Understand the conditions for stability and instability in atomic nuclei. (75%)
28. Understand how Feynman diagrams are used to depict fundamental subatomic processes and interactions. (68%)
9. Understand how charges behave differently in conductors and insulators. (64%)

Compare these student learning outcomes self-reported as not being achieved (9, 10, 11, 13, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26, 28) those from the previous semester (spring semester 2014: (5, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28).

Student learning outcomes 16, 17, 18, and 19 for this semester were also directly assessed using a shortened version of Electric Circuit Concept Evaluation.

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

Education research: ECCE statistics (spring semester 2015)

Students at Cuesta College (San Luis Obispo, CA) were administered a shortened version (22 out of 45 questions) of the Electric Circuit Concept Evaluation (David Sokoloff, University of Oregon) during the first and the last week of instruction. Physics 205B is the second semester of an algebra-based introductory general physics course covering optics, electromagnetism, and modern physics, with a mandatory adjunct laboratory component.

The pre- to post-test gain for this semester at Cuesta College (excluding students with negative informed consent forms (*.pdf), and missing pre- or post-tests) is:

Physics 205B spring semester 2015 sections 30882, 30883
N = 30
<initial%>= 31% ± 11%
<final%>= 40% ± 11%
<g>= 0.12 ± 0.19 (matched-pairs); 0.14 (class-wise)

This semester's ECCE post-instruction score is slightly lower than results from previous semesters at Cuesta College, and this semester's gain is lower than those in previous semesters.

Previous posts:
  • Education research: ECCE statistics (spring semester 2014).
  • Education research: ECCE statistics (spring semester 2012).
  • Education research: ECCE statistics (spring semester 2011).
  • Education research: ECCE statistics (fall semester 2010).
  • 20150525

    Education research: SASS, SPCI and student learning outcomes assessment (Cuesta College, spring semester 2015)

    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 as a post-test 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 spring semester 2015 sections 30674, 30676
    N = 46

    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: 93%, unachieved: 7%)
    Very poor.  [0]
    Below average.  *** [3]
    Average.  *************** [15]
    Above average.  ************* [13]
    Excellent.  ************ [12]

    2. Explain sun cycles and seasons.
    (Achieved: 98%, unachieved: 2%)
    Very poor.  * [1]
    Below average.  [0]
    Average.  ************** [14]
    Above average.  *************** [15]
    Excellent.  ************* [13]

    3. Explain and predict lunar phases and times.
    (Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 12%)
    Very poor.  * [1]
    Below average.  **** [4]
    Average.  ******** [8]
    Above average.  *********** [11]
    Excellent.  ******************* [19]

    4. Relate planets in the sky to a solar system map.
    (Achieved: 86%, unachieved: 14%)
    Very poor.  * [1]
    Below average.  ***** [5]
    Average.  **************** [16]
    Above average.  *********** [11]
    Excellent.  ********** [10]

    5. Explain differences between models of planetary motion.
    (Achieved: 81%, unachieved: 19%)
    Very poor.  [0]
    Below average.  ******** [8]
    Average.  *************** [15]
    Above average.  ************ [12]
    Excellent.  ******** [8]

    6. Explain evidence for the heliocentric model of planetary motion.
    (Achieved: 74%, unachieved: 26%)
    Very poor.  [0]
    Below average.  *********** [11]
    Average.  ************* [13]
    Above average.  ************* [13]
    Excellent.  ****** [6]

    7. Describe how optical telescopes work.
    (Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 12%)
    Very poor.  * [1]
    Below average.  **** [4]
    Average.  **************** [16]
    Above average.  ****************** [13]
    Excellent.  ********* [9]

    8. Describe different powers of optical telescopes.
    (Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 12%)
    Very poor.  * [1]
    Below average.  *** [3]
    Average.  ******** [8]
    Above average.  ******************** [20]
    Excellent.  *********** [11]

    9. Explain which telescopes should be funded based on relevant criteria.
    (Achieved: 91%, unachieved: 9%)
    Very poor.  * [1]
    Below average.  *** [3]
    Average.  ******** [8]
    Above average.  ******************** [20]
    Excellent.  *********** [11]

    10. Explain how stars produce energy.
    (Achieved: 91%, unachieved: 9%)
    Very poor.  ** [2]
    Below average.  ** [2]
    Average.  ***************** [17]
    Above average.  **************** [11]
    Excellent.  **************** [11]

    11. Explain the relationship between star brightness and distances.
    (Achieved: 98%, unachieved: 2%)
    Very poor.  [0]
    Below average.  * [1]
    Average.  ********** [10]
    Above average.  ************ [12]
    Excellent.  ******************** [20]

    12. Predict the size of a star based on brightness and temperature.
    (Achieved: 95%, unachieved: 5%)
    Very poor.  [0]
    Below average.  ** [2]
    Average.  ******** [8]
    Above average.  **************** [16]
    Excellent.  ***************** [17]

    13. Explain different stages a star will go through, based on its mass.
    (Achieved: 88%, unachieved: 12%)
    Very poor.  [0]
    Below average.  ***** [5]
    Average.  **************** [16]
    Above average.  ************** [14]
    Excellent.  ******** [8]

    14. Explain evidence for the shape/size/composition of our Milky Way galaxy.
    (Achieved: 86%, unachieved: 14%)
    Very poor.  * [1]
    Below average.  ***** [5]
    Average.  *************** [15]
    Above average.  ***************** [17]
    Excellent.  ***** [5]

    15. Explain evidence for how our Milky Way galaxy came to be.
    (Achieved: 79%, unachieved: 21%)
    Very poor.  * [1]
    Below average.  ******** [8]
    Average.  *************** [15]
    Above average.  ************** [14]
    Excellent.  ***** [5]

    16. Explain how the speed of light affects observations of distant objects.
    (Achieved: 81%, unachieved: 19%)
    Very poor.  ** [2]
    Below average.  ****** [6]
    Average.  *********** [11]
    Above average.  ********* [9]
    Excellent.  *************** [15]

    17. Explain evidence for the expansion of the universe.
    (Achieved: 84%, unachieved: 16%)
    Very poor.  ** [2]
    Below average.  ***** [5]
    Average.  *************** [15]
    Above average.  ************** [14]
    Excellent.  ******* [7]

    18. Describe characteristics of the universe a long time ago.
    (Achieved: 84%, unachieved: 16%)
    Very poor.  ** [2]
    Below average.  ***** [5]
    Average.  ************** [14]
    Above average.  *************** [15]
    Excellent.  ******* [7]

    19. Explain evidence for how our solar system came to be.
    (Achieved: 79%, unachieved: 21%)
    Very poor.  [0]
    Below average.  ********* [9]
    Average.  *************** [15]
    Above average.  *************** [15]
    Excellent.  **** [4]

    20. Describe key features of terrestrial planets.
    (Achieved: 86%, unachieved: 14%)
    Very poor.  * [1]
    Below average.  ***** [5]
    Average.  ************ [12]
    Above average.  ***************** [17]
    Excellent.  ******** [8]

    21. Describe key features of jovian planets.
    (Achieved: 86%, unachieved: 14%)
    Very poor.  * [1]
    Below average.  ***** [5]
    Average.  *************** [15]
    Above average.  *************** [15]
    Excellent.  ******* [7]

    22. Explain why Pluto is not currently categorized as a planet.
    (Achieved: 95%, unachieved: 5%)
    Very poor.  * [1]
    Below average.  * [1]
    Average.  ******* [7]
    Above average.  ***** [5]
    Excellent.  ***************************** [29]

    23. Describe plausible requirements for life.
    (Achieved: 98%, unachieved: 2%)
    Very poor.  * [0]
    Below average.  * [1]
    Average.  ***************** [17]
    Above average.  ************ [12]
    Excellent.  ************* [13]

    24. Explain difficulties in investigating the possibility for extraterrestrial life.
    (Achieved: 93%, unachieved: 7%)
    Very poor.  [0]
    Below average.  *** [3]
    Average.  *************** [15]
    Above average.  ************* [13]
    Excellent.  ************ [12]

    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:
    2. Explain sun cycles and seasons. (98%)
    11. Explain the relationship between star brightness and distances. (98%)
    23. Describe plausible requirements for life. (98%)
    12. Predict the size of a star based on brightness and temperature. (95%)
    22. Explain why Pluto is not currently categorized as a planet. (95%)
    1. Predict positions and cycles of stars, using a starwheel. (93%)
    24. Explain difficulties in investigating the possibility for extraterrestrial life. (93%)
    9. Explain which telescopes should be funded based on relevant criteria. (91%)
    10. Explain how stars produce energy. (91%)
    3. Explain and predict lunar phases and times. (88%)
    7. Describe how optical telescopes work. (88%)
    8. Describe different powers of optical telescopes. (88%)
    13. Explain different stages a star will go through, based on its mass. (88%)
    4. Relate planets in the sky to a solar system map. (86%)
    14. Explain evidence for the shape/size/composition of our Milky Way galaxy. (86%)
    20. Describe key features of terrestrial planets. (86%)
    21. Describe key features of jovian planets. (86%)

    However, six student learning outcomes were self-reported as being achieved by less than 85% of students, listed below in order of decreasing success:
    18. Describe characteristics of the universe a long time ago. (84%)
    5. Explain differences between models of planetary motion. (81%)
    16. Explain how the speed of light affects observations of distant objects. (81%)
    15. Explain evidence for how our Milky Way galaxy came to be. (79%)
    19. Explain evidence for how our solar system came to be. (79%)
    6. Explain evidence for the heliocentric model of planetary motion. (74%)

    Compare these student learning outcomes self-reported as not being achieved (5, 6, 15, 16, 18, 19) with those from previous semesters (fall semester 2014: (7, 21); spring semester 2014: (4, 6, 14, 15, 18, 24); fall semester 2013: (6, 9, 14, 15, 17, 18); 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 spring semester 2015 sections 30674, 30676
    N = 68
    ave ± stdev = 56% ± 19%
    This semester's SPCI scores are slightly higher than 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 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 the lowest learning outcomes in instruction in future semesters.

    Previous posts:

    Kudos: expanding my universe

    "Expanding My Universe," by Student 2021
    Astronomy 210
    May 2015
    Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

    Kudos: different teaching style

    "Different Teaching Style," by Student 1175
    Astronomy 210
    May 2015
    Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

    Online reading assignment question: advice to future students

    Astronomy 210, spring semester 2015
    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. The following question was asked after the last lecture, but prior to the final exam.

    Tell a student who is about to take this course next semester what he/she needs to know or to do in order to succeed in this course. (Graded for completion.)
    "To do the flashcards questions in advance--they help so much--and to always ask questions if you do not understand something"

    "Do your home work and always show up."

    "Read the material. Draw diagrams and scales, anyway that will help you to memorize material."

    "Study!!!!"

    "In order to do well in this course, basically pay attention and do the reading."

    "Read the chapters assigned. And pay attention to the in-class activities."

    "As long as you keep up with the book reading and the online reading assignments you should be able to get a good grade in the class."

    "RESPECT THE BLOG!!!"

    "Always be on P-dog's blog as that is where he teaches his class and explains a lot of the more difficult things like absorption and emission spectra. His online website also has many other sources of information that you're tested on with examples too."

    "Read the book, and go to class."

    "In order to pass this class, just don't miss it. This class with this instructor (P-dog) talks about each subject for just the right amount of time in order for the average student that is paying attention to get a good grade on his quizzes and tests."

    "Always do your online reading assignments, and go to class in order to get in-class activity points. By doing both you accumulate a lot of points and also begin studying earlier than those who don't do these things."

    "Do not put off homework and do not forget to study the guides. Also I would let them know that P-dog is pretty awesome at teaching the subject!"

    "You need to study hard to succeed as the key to success is work."

    "Read the lessons, do well on midterms, OFFICE HOURS ARE AMAZING, and wear your galaxy shoes. They help. :)"

    "Always/only cross-off one answer that is definitely wrong on every test!"

    "Pay attention, come to class and ask questions."

    "They should watch the Science Channel over summer to learn about stars and stuff. Like Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman."

    "Use the practice quizzes and study them. Study the actual quizzes for the midterms. Study the midterms for the final. Boom!"

    "Go to class."

    "Make sure to always read the book before class so that you're prepared for the topic and the discussion for in-class activities. You'll have questions afterwards, but they will be answered in class. Way bether than learning in class, and then going home and reading and then you still have questions."

    "Go to class! Most points come from class! So go to class and listen, do your homework assignments and readings and you're pretty much guaranteed to pass. Also study the practice quizzes because that's practically the quiz with everything done for you ahead of time."

    "Read the lectures P-dog puts up and do the homework every week. Also read the book on occasion."

    "Buy the book, Use the book, do the homework, ace the class."

    "Do your homework"

    "Do all the homework and go to class!"

    "Read the book to understand each unit more clearly!"

    "Go to all of the classes because P-dog explains everything that the book cannot. Don't forget to do the homework; I've woken up at 1 AM and cursed my fate cause I couldn't do the homework."

    "Show up to class and study past quizzes and tests from previous semesters that he provides you with."

    "I recommend that you print out the flashcard questions and fill them out while you go over some of them as a class, It's a big help when studying for an exam."

    "You need to look at this course as one of the most necessary course any person could ever take. You must find that innate fascination for the universe within yourself. And if you can't do that, just find one thing you are fascinated about and learn everything you can about it, and all the concepts related to it. Eventually you'll find yourself retaining more than you thought possible."

    "Keep up on the reading assignments and make sure you review P-dog's presentations before each class."

    "Go to class at least in the beginning half of the semester to get a good grade started. Do the homework (easiest points possible). Take time to do some of the flashcard questions. P-dog will help you out a lot!"

    "Definitely study for the quizzes and midterms the flash card questions are extremely helpful so utilize them. Don't miss class just because, going to class gets you easy points doing activities so don't waste that."

    "Do the reading, preview the presentations, complete the assignments, go to class, and do the quiz flashcard questions. You get what you put into it."

    "Take the time to do all the flashcard questions for quizzes and exams! With this class it's important to stay on top of the reading and do the homework assignments the night before it's due."

    "Stay on top of the online homework!"

    "Go to class and do your homework."

    Astronomy final exam question: less-massive star bigger than more-massive star?

    Astronomy 210 Final Exam, spring semester 2015
    Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

    "Wikipedia says NML Cygni (33 Msun, 1,700 Rsun) is the largest star in size, but it is less massive than R136a1 (256 Msun, 29 Rsun). How is this possible?" This question was asked on an online discussion board and a possible answer was given[*]:
    zei: A less-massive star near the end of its life could be much larger than a younger, more massive main-sequence star.
    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=20120827061217AAtzkXA.

    Solution and grading rubric:
    • p:
      Correct. Massive stars will expand to become supergiants after their main-sequence lifetimes end. A less-massive star that is older, and at the end of its main-sequence lifetime will have expanded (increasing its size, but not affecting its mass), becoming bigger than a more-massive star that is younger, and still in its main-sequence phase. May also discuss how they may have both ended their main-sequence phases, but the older less-massive star would have had more time to expand and be a supergiant (or an impending type II supernova) bigger in size than the newer more-massive star.
    • r:
      Nearly correct (explanation weak, unclear or only nearly complete); includes extraneous/tangential information; or has minor errors.
    • t:
      Contains right ideas, but discussion is unclear/incomplete or contains major errors.
    • 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.
    • x:
      Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit. Discussion other than that of the properties and evolution of stars.
    • y:
      Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
    • z:
      Blank.
    Grading distribution:
    Section 30674
    Exam code: finaln1N3
    p: 5 students
    r: 3 students
    t: 9 students
    v: 10 students
    x: 1 student
    y: 1 student
    z: 0 students

    Section 30676
    Exam code: finals3nG
    p: 12 students
    r: 5 students
    t: 5 students
    v: 19 students
    x: 3 students
    y: 1 student
    z: 0 students

    A sample "p" response (from student 4676, a self-proclaimed "H-R diagram homeboi"):

    Astronomy final exam question: different mass stars, same star cluster, same metallicity?

    Astronomy 210 Final Exam, spring semester 2015
    Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

    "Could supergiants and medium-mass main-sequence stars in the same cluster have the same amount of metals in their outer layers?" This question was asked on an online discussion board and two possible answers were given[*]:
    Yng: Yes, because the metals in their outer layers came from the dust cloud from which the stars were formed. Although more metals would be forming deep within the supergiants.
    ogP: No, because supergiants have shorter lifetimes and will be younger and 
metal-rich compared to longer lifetime medium-mass main-sequence stars.
    Discuss which answer is correct, and how you know this. Explain using the properties and evolution of stars.

    [*] answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20150506235250AA57UAC.

    Solution and grading rubric:
    • p:
      Correct. Understands that stars in the same cluster were born at the same time from the same dust and gas cloud, such that their outer layers will have the same metal-content (even though massive stars will evolve faster through their main-sequence lifetimes than medium-mas stars, reaching their supergiant stage while the medium-mass stars are still on the main-sequence, thus "Yng" has the more correct argument.
    • r:
      Nearly correct (explanation weak, unclear or only nearly complete); includes extraneous/tangential information; or has minor errors.
    • t:
      Contains right ideas, but discussion is unclear/incomplete or contains major errors. Typically argues how younger, shorter-lived stars would have inherited their metals from earlier generations of stars undergoing type II or type Ia supernovae.
    • 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.
    • x:
      Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit. Discussion other than that of the properties and evolution of stars.
    • y:
      Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
    • z:
      Blank.
    Grading distribution:
    Section 30674
    Exam code: finaln1N3
    p: 6 students
    r: 3 students
    t: 10 students
    v: 7 students
    x: 2 students
    y: 1 student
    z: 0 students

    Section 30676
    Exam code: finals3nG
    p: 11 students
    r: 5 students
    t: 19 students
    v: 5 students
    x: 1 student
    y: 4 students
    z: 0 students

    A sample "p" response (from student 2000):

    Astronomy final exam question: too late to observe a type II supernova?

    Astronomy 210 Final Exam, spring semester 2015
    Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

    "A supergiant 19 light years away exploded as a type II supernova 20 years ago. Is it too late to watch it happen?" This question was asked on an online discussion board, and two possible answers were given[*]:
    qc: Yes. The "news" of the explosion washed through our solar system 19 years after the explosion--which, if it happened 20 years ago--would have been a year before today.
    ogP: No, it will become visible to us next year. Not that we would know that it would happen ahead of time.
    Discuss which answer is correct, and how you know this. Explain using the properties of mass and stellar lifetimes, and light.

    [*] answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20150506235144AAFW6fZ.

    Solution and grading rubric:
    • p:
      Correct. Understands that:
      1. due to the finite speed of light (where it takes one year of time to travel a distance of one light-year), it will take 19 years for the light from this star to travel to Earth; and
      2. since the type II supernova occurred 20 years ago, and took 19 years for this light to travel to Earth, then it would have been observed one year ago.
      Thus "qc" has the more correct argument.
    • r:
      Nearly correct (explanation weak, unclear or only nearly complete); includes extraneous/tangential information; or has minor errors.
    • t:
      Contains right ideas, but discussion is unclear/incomplete or contains major errors.
    • v:
      Limited relevant discussion of supporting evidence of at least some merit, but in an inconsistent or unclear manner. Garbled discussion of mass, stellar lifetimes, and light.
    • x:
      Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit. Discussion not based on mass, stellar lifetimes, and light.
    • y:
      Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
    • z:
      Blank.
    Grading distribution:
    Section 30674
    Exam code: finaln1N3
    p: 18 students
    r: 6 students
    t: 1 student
    v: 1 student
    x: 1 student
    y: 2 students
    z: 0 students

    Section 30676
    Exam code: finals3nG
    p: 12 students
    r: 9 students
    t: 8 students
    v: 4 students
    x: 9 students
    y: 2 students
    z: 1 student

    A sample "p" response (from student 9419):

    20150518

    Astronomy quiz question: dark matter evidence

    Astronomy 210 Quiz 7, spring semester 2015
    Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

    Stars further out orbiting at the same speed as stars nearer the center of the Milky Way is evidence of:
    (A) dark matter.
    (B) the central supermassive black hole.
    (C) the expansion of the universe.
    (D) unequal amounts of matter and antimatter.

    Correct answer (highlight to unhide): (A)

    The orbital speeds of stars are nearly the same for all distances from the center of the Milky Way, instead of decreasing with increasing distance. This is due to the mass of the Milky Way not being concentrated at the very center (despite a supermassive black hole there), but being diffusely distributed above and below the disk of the Milky Way. Because this amount of mass is not visible in a manner such as luminous stars and gas, this unseen mass is termed "dark matter."

    Section 30674
    Exam code: quiz07Ctlu
    (A) : 5 students
    (B) : 11 students
    (C) : 15 students
    (D) : 5 students

    "Success level": 18% (including partial credit for multiple-choice)
    Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.50
    Section 30676
    Exam code: quiz07Ctlu
    (A) : 9 students
    (B) : 16 students
    (C) : 15 students
    (D) : 4 students

    "Success level": 26% (including partial credit for multiple-choice)
    Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.52

    Astronomy quiz question: red dwarf nucleosynthesis?

    Astronomy 210 Quiz 7, spring semester 2015
    Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

    A red dwarf produced the:
    (A) hydrogen in the sun.
    (B) gold and silver in Earth's crust.
    (C) heat inside Earth's core.
    (D) lithium in car batteries.
    (E) (More than one of the above choices.)
    (F) (None of the above choices.)

    Correct answer (highlight to unhide): (F)

    A red dwarf is a low-mass main sequence star, which produces energy from fusing hydrogen into helium during its (extremely long) main sequence lifetime, which is so long (50+ billion years) that none have yet died, as it is longer than the age of the universe (14 billion years). Thus no atoms from a red dwarf have ever been released to be incorporated into the formation of our solar system.

    Section 30674
    Exam code: quiz07Ctlu
    (A) : 3 students
    (B) : 2 students
    (C) : 1 student
    (D) : 2 students
    (E) : 8 students
    (F) : 20 students

    Success level: 57% (including partial credit for multiple-choice)
    Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.40

    Section 30676
    Exam code: quiz07Ctlu
    (A) : 4 students
    (B) : 0 students
    (C) : 2 students
    (D) : 1 student
    (E) : 15 students
    (F) : 21 students

    Success level: 49% (including partial credit for multiple-choice)
    Discrimination index (Aubrecht & Aubrecht, 1983): 0.82

    Education research: SPCI statistics (spring semester 2015)

    Students at Cuesta College (San Luis Obispo, CA) were administered the Star Properties Concept Inventory (SPCI version 3.0, developed by Janelle Bailey, University of Nevada-Las Vegas) during the first and the last week of instruction. Astronomy 210 is a one-semester introductory general science course, with a separate optional adjunct laboratory (Astronomy 210L).

    The pre- to post-test gain for this semester at Cuesta College (excluding students with negative informed consent forms (*.pdf), and missing pre- or post-tests) is:

    Astronomy 210 spring semester 2015 sections 30674, 30676
    N = 68 (matched-pairs)
    <initial%>= 31% ± 12%
    <final%>= 56 ± 19%
    <g>= 0.38 ± 0.23 (matched-pairs); 0.36 (class-wise)

    This semester's SPCI pre- and post-instruction scores are comparable to results from previous semesters at Cuesta College.

    20150517

    Physics midterm question: two opposite charges brought closer

    Physics 205B Midterm 2, spring semester 2015
    Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

    Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e, Conceptual Question 17.22, Problems 17.55, 17.56

    As the distance between two charges is steadily decreased, their electric potential energy becomes a larger negative number. Discuss why these charges must have opposite signs for this to happen. Explain your reasoning using the properties of charges, electric forces, electric potential energies, and electric potentials.

    Solution and grading rubric:
    • p:
      Correct. With two charges of opposite signs, EPE = kq1q2/r must be negative, and thus decreasing r will make EPE a larger negative quantity.
    • r:
      As (p), but argument indirectly, weakly, or only by definition supports the statement to be proven, or has minor inconsistencies or loopholes. One of the two arguments in (p) is only nearly complete, or has minor inconsistencies.
    • 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. Some garbled attempt at applying properties of charges, electric forces, electric potential energies, and electric potentials.
    • x:
      Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit. Approach other than that of applying properties of charges, electric forces, electric potential energies, and electric potentials.
    • y:
      Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
    • z:
      Blank.
    Grading distribution:
    Sections 30882, 30883
    Exam code: midterm02m3tR
    p: 43 students
    r: 1 student
    t: 3 students
    v: 0 students
    x: 0 students
    y: 0 students
    z: 0 students

    A sample "p" response (from student 1288):

    Physics midterm question: scuffing your shoes on a rug and jumping up

    Physics 205B Midterm 2, spring semester 2015
    Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

    Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e, Conceptual Question 17.22, Problems 17.55, 17.56

    A voltmeter is used to measure the potential difference between a person's shoes and a rug[*]:
    Scuff [your shoes] on the rug, and watch the voltage-reading on the meter [connected to the shoes and the rug] as it climbs up to several thousand volts... To make the voltage go up, leap into the air.
    Assume that the shoes and the rug act as a parallel-plate capacitor, and that the amount of charge stored remains constant as the person leaps up in the air. Discuss why the voltmeter reading increases when the person leaps up into the air. Explain your reasoning by using the properties of capacitors, charge, and electric potential.

    [*] William J. Beaty, "'Static Electricity' means 'High Voltage'--Measuring your Body-Voltage," amasci.com/emotor/voltmeas.html.

    Solution and grading rubric:
    • p:
      Correct. Discusses/demonstrates:
      1. that an increase in distance between capacitor plates (shoe and rug) decreases their capacitance C = A/(4π∙kd); and
      2. a decrease in capacitance, while charge remains the same results in an increase in voltage difference ΔV = Q/C.
      May instead argue from work argument that the electric potential energy of two oppositely (but equal amounts) of charge will increase when they are separated from each other, resulting in an increase in ΔV.
    • 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. Some garbled attempt at applying applying properties of capacitors, charge, and electric potential.
    • x:
      Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit. Approach other than that of applying properties of capacitors, charge, and electric potential.
    • y:
      Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
    • z:
      Blank.
    Grading distribution:
    Sections 30882, 30883
    Exam code: midterm02m3tR
    p: 35 students
    r: 0 students
    t: 8 students
    v: 3 students
    x: 1 student
    y: 0 students
    z: 0 students

    A sample "p" response (from student 8984):

    Physics midterm problem: currents through each of two parallel bulbs

    Physics 205B Midterm 2, spring semester 2015
    Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

    Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e, Problems 18.40, 18.73, 18.75

    An ideal emf source is connected to an ideal light bulb, and a certain amount of current (say, 0.40 A) flows through the bulb. A common misconception in analyzing circuits[*] is that if two of these bulbs (each with the same resistance as before) are connected in parallel to the same ideal emf, each of those bulbs would then get 0.20 A. Discuss why this is incorrect. Show your work and explain your reasoning using Kirchhoff's rules and Ohm's law.

    [*] Dennis Albers, cited in Thomas O'Kuma, David P. Maloney, Curtis J. Hieggelke, Ranking Task Exercises in Physics, Prentice Hall (2000), p. 204.

    Solution and grading rubric:
    • p:
      Correct. Discusses/demonstrates:
      1. that the parallel circuit light bulbs would still each have the same amount of current (0.40 A) as the lone light bulb attached to the same ideal emf source; or
      2. specifically argues why the parallel circuit light bulbs would not have one-half of the current of the lone light bulb attached to the same ideal emf source.
    • r:
      As (p), but argument indirectly, weakly, or only by definition supports the statement to be proven, or has minor inconsistencies or loopholes. Typically solves for the equivalent resistance of the two light bulbs in parallel, and the total equivalent circuit current of 0.80 A, but only implicitly (if at all) mentions how each light bulb would divide up this current such that each does not get the incorrect 0.20 A value.
    • t:
      Nearly correct, but argument has conceptual errors, or is incomplete. At least understands equivalent resistance for light bulbs in parallel.
    • v:
      Limited relevant discussion of supporting evidence of at least some merit, but in an inconsistent or unclear manner. Some garbled attempt at discussing Kirchhoff's rules and Ohm's law.
    • x:
      Implementation of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit. Approach other than that of discussing Kirchhoff's rules and Ohm's law.
    • y:
      Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
    • z:
      Blank.
    Grading distribution:
    Sections 30882, 30883
    Exam code: midterm02m3tR
    p: 19 students
    r: 13 students
    t: 11 students
    v: 3 students
    x: 1 student
    y: 0 students
    z: 0 students

    A sample "p" response (from student 1111), qualitatively appealing to Kirchhoff's loop rule:

    A sample "p" response (from student 0196), quantitatively using specific numbers:

    Physics midterm question: loop moving through opposite magnetic fields boundary

    Physics 205B Midterm 2, spring semester 2015
    Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

    Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e, Example 20.1, Conceptual Example 20.5

    A square metal loop of resistance R is dragged from a region with an external magnetic field that points into the plane of this page, to a region with an external magnetic field that points out of the plane of this page. The magnitudes of the magnetic fields in these two regions are the same, only their directions differ. Discuss why the induced current in the loop while it is passing from one region to the other will be clockwise in direction. Explain your reasoning using the properties of magnetic fields, forces, motional emf, Faraday's law and Lenz's law.

    Solution and grading rubric:
    • p:
      Correct. Discusses/demonstrates that current induced in the square must be clockwise using either (or both) of the following (equivalent) arguments:
      1. right-hand rule 1 to show that the force on fictitious positive charges in the top of the square loop point to the right, while the force on the bottom points to left, resulting in a clockwise flow; or
      2. Faraday's (and Lenz's) law to the changing external magnetic flux through the square loop--as it moves downwards, the flux pointing into the page decreases (while the flux pointing out of the page increases), such that the current induced in the square loop must be clockwise in order to provide a counteracting flux that points into the page.
    • 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. At least some attempt at using magnetic forces and/or magnetic flux.
    • v:
      Limited relevant discussion of supporting evidence of at least some merit, but in an inconsistent or unclear manner.
    • x:
      Implementation of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit. Approach other than that of applying properties of magnetic fields, forces, motional emf, Faraday's law and Lenz's law.
    • y:
      Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
    • z:
      Blank.
    Grading distribution:
    Sections 30882, 30883
    Exam code: midterm02m3tR
    p: 31 students
    r: 1 student
    t: 11 students
    v: 4 students
    x: 0 students
    y: 0 students
    z: 0 students

    A sample "p" response (from student 0550), discussing the Lorentz force exerted on fictitious positive charges in the top and bottom segments of the wire loop:

    A sample "p" response (from student 8167), using both the Lorentz force, and also applying Lenz's law to the changing flux through the wire loop:

    20150516

    Physics quiz archive: radioactive decay, Feynman diagrams

    Physics 205B Quiz 7, spring semester 2015
    Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA
    Sections 30882, 30883, version 1
    Exam code: quiz07d4wN


    Sections 30882, 30883 results
    0- 6 :   **** [low = 3]
    7-12 :   ******
    13-18 :   *************
    19-24 :   ****** [mean = 18.4 +/- 7.8]
    25-30 :   *********** [high = 30]

    20150515

    Astronomy current events question: 55 Cancri e temperature fluctuations

    Astronomy 210L, spring semester 2015
    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!)
    Sarah Collins, "Astronomers Find First Evidence of Changing Conditions on a Super Earth" (May 5, 2015)
    http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/astronomers-find-first-evidence-of-changing-conditions-on-a-super-earth
    NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope observed variations in atmospheric temperatures from extrasolar planet 55 Cancri e, which may be evidence of:
    (A) volcanic activity.
    (B) a runaway greenhouse effect.
    (C) a polar vortex.
    (D) an asteroid impact.
    (E) radioactive decay.

    Correct answer: (A)

    Student responses
    Section 30680
    (A) : 12 students
    (B) : 3 students
    (C) : 0 students
    (D) : 1 student
    (E) : 0 students

    Astronomy current events question: "thick-disk" quasars

    Astronomy 210L, spring semester 2015
    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!)
    Jennifer Harbaugh, "NASA's Chandra Suggests Black Holes Gorging at Excessive Rates" (April 30, 2015)
    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/nasas-chandra-suggests-black-holes-gorging-at-excessive-rates.html
    NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory observed ultraviolet and x-ray emissions fainter than expected around supermassive black holes, which may be caused by:
    (A) large amounts of infalling material.
    (B) cold, dark matter.
    (C) antimatter.
    (D) neutron stars.
    (E) protoplanet formation.

    Correct answer: (A)

    Student responses
    Section 30680
    (A) : 9 students
    (B) : 4 students
    (C) : 1 student
    (D) : 2 students
    (E) : 0 students

    Astronomy current events question: Very Large Telescope laser guide star

    Astronomy 210L, spring semester 2015
    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!)
    Domenico Bonaccini Calia, Wolfgang Hackenberg, and Richard Hook, "First Light of New Laser at Paranal" (May 8, 2015)
    http://www.eso.org/public/usa/announcements/ann15034/
    The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile uses a laser while observing to:
    (A) evaporate high-altitude clouds.
    (B) subtract out light pollution.
    (C) dust off its mirrors.
    (D) measure atmospheric turbulence.
    (E) determine target distances.

    Correct answer: (D)

    Student responses
    Section 30680
    (A) : 1 student
    (B) : 0 students
    (C) : 2 students
    (D) : 11 students
    (E) : 2 students

    20150514

    Astronomy midterm question: NASA Asteroid Redirect Mission proposal

    Astronomy 210 Midterm 2, spring semester 2015
    Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

    NASA's proposed Asteroid Redirect Mission[*] was recently described in the news:
    NASA sends a spacecraft to an asteroid, plucks a boulder off its surface with a robotic claw, and brings [the boulder] back in orbit around the moon. Then, brave astronaut heroes go and study the [the boulder] up close.
    Discuss whether or not the classification of Earth's moon would change by having a (small, irregularly-shaped) boulder in orbit around it, and how you know this. Explain using the International Astronomical Union classification scheme.

    [*] Marcus Woo, "NASA's Plan to Give the Moon a Moon," March 25, 2015, wired.com/2015/03/nasas-plan-give-moon-moon/.

    Solution and grading rubric:
    • p:
      Correct. Of the three IAU requirements for a planet (orbits the sun directly, has a rounded shape, cleared/dominates its orbit) Earth's moon does not meet the first question (orbits the sun directly), which immediately categorizes it as a moon. Placing a small, irregularly-shaped boulder in orbit around the moon does not affect its orbit around Earth, thus the moon will still fail to meet the first question, which does not affect its categorization as a moon.
    • r:
      Nearly correct (explanation weak, unclear or only nearly complete); includes extraneous/tangential information; or has minor errors.
    • t:
      Contains right ideas, but discussion is unclear/incomplete or contains major errors.
    • v:
      Limited relevant discussion of supporting evidence of at least some merit, but in an inconsistent or unclear manner. Discussion only tangentially related to the IAU classification scheme.
    • x:
      Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit. Discussion unrelated to the IAU classification scheme.
    • y:
      Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
    • z:
      Blank.
    Grading distribution:
    Section 30674
    Exam code: midterm02N4ra
    p: 27 students
    r: 0 students
    t: 5 students
    v: 2 students
    x: 3 students
    y: 0 students
    z: 1 student

    Section 30676
    Exam code: midterm02s0Ju
    p: 32 students
    r: 8 students
    t: 6 students
    v: 3 students
    x: 0 students
    y: 0 students
    z: 0 students

    A sample "p" response (from student 1234):

    Astronomy midterm question: red supergiants versus red giants

    Astronomy 210 Midterm 2, spring semester 2015
    Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

    An astronomy question on an online discussion board[*] was answered:
    Yg: Red supergiants can be the same size as red giants.
    Discuss why this answer is incorrect, and how you know this. Explain using Wien's law, the Stefan-Boltzmann law and/or an H-R diagram.

    [*] answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20150326215251AATYkHE.

    Solution and grading rubric:
    • p:
      Correct. Uses Wien's law, the Stefan-Boltzmann law and/or interprets H-R diagram to discuss how a red supergiant cannot be the size as a red giant by either arguing:
      1. that from Wien's law, a red supergiant must have the same temperature as a red giant, and from the H-R diagram a supergiant must be more luminous than a giant, such that from the Stefan-Boltzmann law, for two stars that have the same temperature, the more luminous supergiant must be larger than the less luminous giant, which makes it not possible for the supergiant to have the same size as the giant; or instead argues
      2. that from the Stefan-Boltzmann law, for two stars that have the same size, the more luminous supergiant must have a hotter surface temperature, which makes it not possible to have the same color as the less luminous giant.
    • r:
      Nearly correct (explanation weak, unclear or only nearly complete); includes extraneous/tangential information; or has minor errors.
    • t:
      Contains right ideas, but discussion is unclear/incomplete or contains major errors. At last discussion demonstrates understanding of Wien's law, H-R diagram and/or the Stefan-Boltzmann law.
    • v:
      Limited relevant discussion of supporting evidence of at least some merit, but in an inconsistent or unclear manner. At least attempts to use Wien's law, H-R diagram and/or the Stefan-Boltzmann law.
    • x:
      Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit. Discussion not clearly based on Wien's law, H-R diagram and/or the Stefan-Boltzmann law.
    • y:
      Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
    • z:
      Blank.
    Section 30674
    Exam code: midterm02N4ra
    p: 20 students
    r: 1 student
    t: 11 students
    v: 4 students
    x: 1 student
    y: 1 student
    z: 0 students

    Section 30676
    Exam code: midterm02s0Ju
    p: 30 students
    r: 5 students
    t: 12 students
    v: 2 students
    x: 0 students
    y: 0 students
    z: 0 students

    A sample "p" response (from student 2194):

    A sample "t" response (from student 1175):

    Astronomy midterm question: same or different distance stars?

    Astronomy 210 Midterm 2, spring semester 2015
    Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

    An astronomy question on an online discussion board[*] was answered:
    SM: If Star A has a dimmer apparent magnitude and a brighter absolute magnitude, and Star B has a brighter apparent magnitude and a dimmer absolute magnitude, they could not be the same distance from us.
    Discuss why this reasoning is correct, and how you know this. Explain using the relationships between apparent magnitude, absolute magnitude, and distance.

    [*] answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20150326221032AADoWdf .

    Solution and grading rubric:
    • p:
      Correct. Understands difference between apparent magnitude m (brightness as seen from Earth, when placed at their actual distance from Earth) and absolute magnitude M (brightness as seen from Earth, when placed 10 parsecs away), and discusses how star A and star B cannot be located the same distance away from Earth by either arguing:
      1. how star A (which seems dim (m) but is actually bright (M) when placed at 10 parsecs away) must be located farther than 10 parsecs away, while star B (which seems bright (m) but is actually dim (M) when placed at 10 parsecs away) must be located nearer than 10 parsecs, such that it is not possible for these two stars to located the same distance away from Earth; or instead
      2. in order for star A and star B to both be located closer than 10 parsecs (or farther away than 10 parsecs), then both their apparent magnitudes (m) must be brighter (dimmer) than their respective absolute magnitudes (M). Since this is not true, then it is not possible for these two stars to located the same distance away from Earth, as they cannot be both be closer or farther away than 10 parsecs.
    • r:
      Nearly correct (explanation weak, unclear or only nearly complete); includes extraneous/tangential information; or has minor errors.
    • t:
      Contains right ideas, but discussion is unclear/incomplete or contains major errors. At least discussion demonstrates understanding of relationships between apparent magnitudes, absolute magnitudes, and distances.
    • v:
      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 magnitudes, and distances.
    • x:
      Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit. Discussion based on garbled definitions of, or not based on proper relationships between apparent magnitudes, absolute magnitudes, and distances.
    • y:
      Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
    • z:
      Blank.
    Grading distribution:
    Section 30674
    Exam code: midterm02N4ra
    p: 27 students
    r: 4 students
    t: 3 students
    v: 4 students
    x: 0 students
    y: 0 students
    z: 0 students

    Section 30676
    Exam code: midterm02s0Ju
    p: 34 students
    r: 9 students
    t: 6 students
    v: 0 students
    x: 0 students
    y: 0 students
    z: 0 students

    A sample "p" response (from student 4354):

    20150513

    Astronomy quiz archive: Milky Way, cosmology

    Astronomy 210 Quiz 7, spring semester 2015
    Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

    Sections 30674, 30676 version 1
    Exam code: quiz07Ctlu


    Section 30674
    0- 8.0 :  
    8.5-16.0 :   ***** [low = 9.5]
    16.5-24.0 :   ***********
    24.5-32.0 :   ************* [mean = 24.8 +/- 7.9]
    32.5-40.0 :   ******* [high = 40.0]

    Section 30676
    0- 8.0 :   ** [low = 6.5]
    8.5-16.0 :   *******
    16.5-24.0 :   ********** [mean = 23.9 +/- 8.5]
    24.5-32.0 :   ******************
    32.5-40.0 :   ******* [high = 40.0]