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

Astronomy 210, spring semester 2017
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.
"That zodiac being an 'arc of animals,' because I never knew that and am very into reading horoscopes and learning about my sign (Gemini)."

"Tilt and revolution, as in how explains why seasons are hot/cold. Summer is when the sun is high in the sky, and winter is when the sun is low in the sky. Tilt determines this when the northern hemisphere is facing towards the sun making it warmer, which in turn means summer. And when the northern hemisphere is facing away from the sun, it is colder, meaning winter. It's neat seeing how our seasons come in to play with how Earth is interracting with the sun. I would like to know how fall and spring come into play as well, though."

"The 'wobbly top' analogy helped me visualize the concept of precession pretty well."

"You started class by telling us how insignificant we actually are in the universe. In reading the textbook and looking at the illustrations of us, then Earth, then the universe, it became more clear to me what you meant. Seeing how tiny we actually are in the great scheme of things was crazy; a real eye opener."

"That even when it's daytime, there are still stars in the sky. Up until this point, I had assumed that stars only came out at nighttime. I found it interesting that we can't see them when it's daylight because of the glare and reflection from the sun."

"That the eastward rotation of Earth makes it seem like the sky is traveling westward!"

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"Earth's tilt and how the seasons change because of it. It makes sense to me that the tilt causes the changes in temperature but it was confusing how the arc of the sun played into it. Higher and lower arcs across the sky didn't make sense."

"The phases of the moon--in particular how to distiguish wheather the moon is a first or third quarter. How do you tell if it's getter bigger or smaller?"

"Precession/wandering poles."

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.  ************** [14]
April 25.  [0]
July 4.  [0]
August 20.  * [1]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  *** [3]

Match these cycles with their approximate duration.
(Only correct responses shown.)
Earth's rotation: 24 hours [94%]
Earth's revolution: one year [83%]
Earth's precession: 26,000 years [100%]
The moon's revolution: one month [89%]

I believe astrology is able to make accurate predictions about my future. (This is just an opinion question, there are no right answers.)
Strongly disagree.  ** [2]
Disagree.  *** [3]
Neutral.  *********** [11]
Agree.  ** [2]
Strongly agree.  [0]

Briefly explain your answer regarding your belief/disbelief in astrology. (This is just an opinion question, there are no right answers.)
"I disagree because, there are lots of people in this world. how can some stars tell everyone in the world there future, when all of us are unique in our own way."

"I think that the idea of astrology is almost like Greek or Roman gods; interesting, imaginative, and thought-provoking. It's good story material, in my opinion."

"Why would everybody born in the same month have the same lives?"

"I honestly don't know what to believe. I have read some astrology and sometimes it seems as though it is on point in describing personality traits and predictions. And other times I feel it is just a general and fun description of traits that can be applied to anyone. I am really not sure how I feel about it other than I like to read them."

"I feel that the universe is attuned to everything. my belief in it isn't extreme, but I feel a little off when Mercury is in retrograde."

"Well so far its been accurate, but I do not strongly believe it, more as to just get a better read on someone."

"I have an open mind when it comes to astrology. I think it is interesting how accurate the predictions are sometimes. Other times it is way off and I have a feeling that that's because I am human and make my own decisions :)"

"I believe that astrology can make pretty accurate predictions about your future and your personality. But the way that 'professionals' offer astrology predictions is so vague that it could apply to anyone."

"I have a strong belief when it comes to the characteristics of the zodiac signs. My personality is is accurately described under a Scorpio's description."

Place these moon phases in chronological order in their cycle (starting with new moon).
(Only correct responses shown, in unscrambled order.)
New moon: first [89%]
Waxing crescent: second [78%]
First quarter: third [89%]
Waxing gibbous: fourth [78%]
Full moon: fifth [78%]
Waning gibbous: sixth [67%]
Third quarter: seventh [72%]
Waning crescent: eighth [61%]

Explain what is different about homework in a flipped class.
"I like flipped class because I can go over all the information you would be teaching us, but actually dissect it myself to see what I understand and don't understand, and therefore know what questions to ask you before we move on to clarify what I'm truely confused on. Versus in a regular class you'd teach us what we need to know and we'd do our homework to test how well we know it, then just move on to the next chapter."

"The homework gets you prepared to do in class activities/discussions, and lets you prepare questions, or things you need to clarify in class."

"In a flipped class you do your homework before class so you can ask constructive questions in class. having done the reading and work before hand you will know what you dont understand."

"Instead of having information dumped on you, and then being sent home to work on the problems yourself, you are expected to read and prepare before hand. Homework is made easier; you have time to read the information and prepare questions, which you can then come into class and ask, which makes going home and doing additional work easier."

"I don't know but it feels a bit easier to understand then just straight up reading from a book and mentally copy-and-paste the material onto a quiz or test."

"I can go over all the information you would be teaching us, but actually dissect it myself to see what I understand and don't understand, and therefore know what questions to ask you before we move on to clarify what I'm truely confused on. Versus in a regular class you'd teach us what we need to know and we'd do our homework to test how well we know it, then just move on to the next chapter."

"The difference is that all students learn at a different pace as others. Therefore flipped classes let you see the next week's lecture and get familiarized with the concepts."

Describe where/when most student learning occurs in a flipped class.
"Most student learning should occur at the student's individual pace."

"Before class, so when some things don't make sense we can go over that or seen time on activities to apply what we learned."

"In a conventional class, most of the learning is done in class when the teacher gives some sort of lecture. The most student learning for a flipped class occurs outside of class as homework, so that the teacher can help clarify things during class."

"It depends on the kind of learner you are. I personally will learn more through reading/watching the lectures/videos, and having my questions clarified in class. With flipped learning, in class the attention is focused on the teacher, and some students may absorb more information with the more 'personalized' relationship. Most of the teaching is "self-didactic", or occurs within ones own understanding/reading of the material."

"I'm not sure what a flipped class and conventional class is."

"Most student learning should take place at home, so discussion and application can happen in class."

"Most learning would occur in the classroom where you can focus on the stuff you didn't understand. It's more personalized this way."

"Most learning will happen on your own before lecture, then you can fine tune your notes with questions in class."

"Most learning occurs away from class in a traditional setting, where in a flipped class, most learning occurs in class. The reason I say this is, I am a hands-on learner, and through the flipped format, class time is free for hands-on application."

Pick one piece of student advice from the previous semester, and discuss why you agree (or disagree) with it.
"'Do homework and study past tests before the midterm.' By studying past homework and test material, I can get an idea of what information will be required and important."

"'Do all the reading assignments and keep up with the reading.' I agree with this because as you mentioned, this is a flip class. What we read is what we learn, and the more we read and stay up to par, the more successful we will be in the class. Even though you give us broad overview of our lesson, class is more meant to engage what we took in over our own readings at home."

"'Show up to class.' Even though this a flipped class, I still believe that invaluable information is dispelled in class, information I may not get online. Attending class also means that I engage with other students, and we can exchange ideas and help each other."

"'Ask questions.' I agree with this. Even though it is currently out of my comfort zone to do so, and I am currently feeling intimidated by thinking every question I have to ask is going to be a dumb one! I currently am embracing the new change and remaining optimistic that this may actually help me and I just may learn a thing or two about astronomy."

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"Can you personally see the patterns of astrology playing out in your own life?" (No, not really. And not just because I don't read my horoscope.)

"This is the first online homework assignment and attempt of really understanding how your flipped class approach works. I feel like this week I am personally trying to not overthink this and just go with the flow and see what happens."

"This class seems like it's gonna be one hell of a ride and I can't wait."

"I'm having a hard time following the phases of the moon. Looking at a picture how do you decide if the moon is waxing or waning? What are some tricks to remember the moon phases?"

"How can one be successful in this class, because to me this class seem really difficult and I know nothing about the stars, the moon and the sun." (I don't think anyone in this class comes in knowing a lot about this stuff; but don't worry, we'll get you and everyone else up to speed on hands-on visualizations of star, sun, moon, and planet cycles in the sky.)

"Where was the link to the past student advice? I couldn't find it." (There were three links under "Preview online presentations." The first two were lecture slides, and the third linked to the list of student advice.)

"Why are you such an awesome teacher?" (Only because I have awesome students.)

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