Abstract: Students can be motivated to keep abreast of recent discoveries and developments in astronomy, and become aware of ongoing daily, monthly, and seasonal celestial cycles. This requires the instructor to nimbly find articles, construct questions, and grade current events quizzes on a weekly basis. Certain online resources readily provide materials for writing these weekly current events quizzes.
Outcomes: Workshop participants will learn how to find online articles, construct robust reading comprehension questions appropriate for introductory astronomy students, and efficiently grade quizzes for formative assessment to guide further class discussion on a regular weekly schedule.
Current events quiz study links (workshop participants--this is your pre-reading assignment):
- Today's sunrise time, sunset time, and moon phase (*.html)
- National Public Radio (*.html)
- NASA (*.html)
- National Radio Astronomy Observatory (*.html)
Note that there are three principal types of questions:
- today's local sunrise or sunset time (to within ±10 minutes in order to handle uncertainty/variation in published times);
- current phase of the moon (if the moon is in-between two of these eight illustrated phases, then full credit is given for choosing either (or both) of these illustrations that bracket the current appearance of the moon);
- selected recent scientific discoveries/findings in astronomy.
(If a student shows up late to the laboratory, the policy is that there is only the time remaining up until 10 minutes after the start of laboratory to take the current events quiz. This policy is reasonably generous as it typically should not take a student the entire allotted 10 minutes to complete this quiz.)
(More efficient would be the use of a RSS feed (Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) to aggregate astronomy-related stories from all of these different websites into a single-page format for you to read through.)
Limit articles to those that students can clearly summarize in their words in these formats (with their corresponding question templates):
- What was discovered:
"[Institution/instrument] [found/observed/determined] _________ by [method]."
- How it was discovered:
"[Institution/instrument] used _________ to [find/observe/determine] [discovery]."
For incorrect distractor responses, use plausible-sounding or comparable methods that are significantly different than the method used in the article, or refer to other contemporary discoveries that were not covered in the set of articles assigned for student reading (note in spring 2016 "gravitational waves" was used once for the actual assigned article early in the semester, but was periodically used as an incorrect distractor throughout the remainder of that term.)
Let's form small groups and look at two sets of articles (as time allows) for you to read through (either online or in hardcopy form), formulate as a "what was discovered" or a "how it was discovered" question with its correct response, along with four incorrect distractor responses (for a total of five multiple-choice (A)-(E) responses for each question).
First set of articles:
- Brown University (*.html)
- Southwest Research Institute (*.html)
- ESA (*.html)
- Discover magazine (*.html)
Earlier blog posts: