Online reading assignment: flipped classroom, motions and cycles (SLO campus)

Astronomy 210, fall 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. 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 Earth's rotation/precession/revolution/tilt, the moon's motions and cycles, and watching two video presentations on the flipped class: "What Is the Flipped Class?" and "How the Flipped Classroom Works."

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 was aware of Earth's orbit and rotation before but I had never known about precession. It was also interesting to learn that it takes 26,000 years for it to be completed."

"'Sun-sign' astrology was really interesting because it made Earth's revolution more clear."

"That the north star will never be the same star. It's pretty cool that after a lot of years the earth's axis will be so different, that different stars become the north star."

"It was odd to me to think that we are always seeing the same side of the moon, but just witnessing shifting shadows to make the moon phases."

"I always noticed on a calendar when it says there will be a half moon or full moon, but I didn't realize the stages it goes through or bow it takes about a month."

"I am excited to be using the starwheel."

"I was never really a huge fan of astronomy, nor did I take it during my high school years. Now that I am enrolled in this class, I seemed to have an interest about zodiac signs, the different meanings and horoscopes for each one to me is amazing and at the same time confusing on how they came up with it! I'm excited to see what other techniques I will learn and develop."

"One of the presentation slides gave me an 'ah-ha' moment--the section about zodiac signs and how the sun is basically hiding the zodiac from view. I am a Cancer and I remember one night trying to find the 'stupid' (at the time) crab during my birth month and couldn't, now I know why."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"The phases of the moon. I understand that they start at new moon, but how do you tell just by looking at the moon which phase it has?"

"Keeping straight the differences between precession, rotation, and revolution. I often find myself mixing them up."

"The ideas of equinoxes and solstices. I do not fully understand how they occur and the general significance of their occurrence; I would like to learn more about these ideas." "

What date would Virgo be just above the east horizon, as seen by an observer at 11 PM in San Luis Obispo, CA? (Ignore daylight saving time.)
February 20.  ********************** [22]
April 25.  [0]
July 4.  [0]
August 20.  ** [2]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  ********* [9]

Match these cycles with their approximate duration.
(Only correct responses shown.)
Earth's rotation: 24 hours [93%]
Earth's revolution: one year [76%]
Earth's precession: 26,000 years [100%]
The moon's revolution: one month [85%]

Place these moon phases in chronological order in their cycle (starting with new moon).
(Only correct responses shown, in unscrambled order.)
New moon: first [100%]
Waxing crescent: second [79%]
First quarter: third [85%]
Waxing gibbous: fourth [%]
Full moon: fifth [76%]
Waning gibbous: sixth [79%]
Third quarter: seventh [76%]
Waning crescent: eighth [76%]

Explain what is different about homework in a flipped class.
"I have no idea what this is yet."

"Homework for a flipped class is assigned and done prior to the class whereas in a regular class homework is assigned in class for the next class. This method of the flipped class allows students to utilize class time for asking questions/ getting clarification on the material."

"Homework also includes the lecture that would usually just be in class."

"The homework prepares you for the next lesson."

"Teachers assign homework to be done at home through work, presentations, and videos that the teacher prepares, so that in class the teacher can spend time teaching concepts that were reviewed at home before class, through active activity participation and in-class questions on previously studied material."

"Lecture material is given to the students before the class."

Describe where/when most student learning occurs in a flipped class.
"Most student learning occurs outside the classroom on the student's own time. Classtime is used to reflect on what was learned and fill in the gaps."

"In a flipped class most student learning occurs at home prior to class."

"Students learn most in the class, where they are allowed to ask questions and do 'hands-on' activities."

"Divided somewhat equally between the classroom and at home, but slightly more applied learning in the classroom."

"It would depend on how you learn. If you learn best listening, you would learn most from the lectures viewed before class. If you are more hands-on, you would learn more during the in-class activities.

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"What are some credible online sources for astronomy news? (NASA first, and the online versions of Sky & Telescope or Astronomy magazines (although they have a lot of advertisements.)

"Are we in the same groups throughout the semester? If not, how often do they change?" (Groups will change every week.)

"I think this whole flipped classroom thing is pretty cool. I like the idea of being able to review material prior to class and then still have it accessible after the lecture. Have you seen any significant student improvement due to this flipped classroom technique?" (That is the focus of my education research.)

"Will study guides be given before exams and will they greatly reflect the exam content?" (Yes, and we'll go over the study guide for the upcoming first quiz.)

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