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

Astronomy 210, fall 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.
"Precession, because it occurs every 26,000 years and recently there has been debate within the astrological community about whether all of our current understanding of zodiac signs has been wrong and based on outdated science. It's also fascinating for me to think that no human will ever experience a full precession on earth, although we experience many revolutions and rotations over the course of our lives."

"That when Earth is tilted a certain way during its orbit around the sun, the sun makes different paths through the sky. Such as when it's winter, the sun doesn't rise as high as it would during the summer."

"That our seasons are based on the suns distribution of solar energy and how if it is more spread out then it is winter, and if it hits more directly overhead, then it is summer. This is interesting because I've wondered why the sun seems 'stronger' during summer months."

"The concept of tilt and revolution. It's amazing to think that the weather here on Earth is dictated by astronomy/the revolution of the earth. Upon reading about it I realized how little I think of such things in daily life. I'm sure revolution is responsible for much more that I'm not aware of."

"I really enjoy figuring out the moon phases to either impress women, or my friends."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"The procession takes 26,000 years to complete. How much of an effect will this have on us or anyone living 1,000 years from now?"

"One thing that was confusing to me was the apparent annual motion of the sun. I am just wondering if the sun rises in a different location everyday considering it's moving everyday? Would it be enough of difference to notice the sun rising in a different spot?"

"Earth's revolution and moon's revolution, and determining how much time corresponds with each rotation."

"A little confused on precession vs. tilt, they seem kind of similar but different? What's the difference?"

"One thing I found confusing would be differentiating all the different moon phases. How can we tell which moon phase is the correct one?"

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.  * [1]
August 20.  * [1]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  *********** [11]

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 [89%]
The moon's revolution: one month [91%]
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.  ***** [5]
Disagree.  ******* [7]
Neutral.  **************** [16]
Agree.  ******* [7]
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 don't think the stars effect my life; I think I do."

"I sometimes get accurate astrology readings and always fascinates me if it's legit. However, I never live and go by my days with astrology."

"I do not believe that we have enough knowledge to say with certainty whether the position of celestial objects has any impact on human behavior. However, strictly as a psychological tool it can be useful in giving some a sense of meaning and direction in their lives."

"I believe that astrology can be used to predict certain things about everyone's future. Not necessarily with precise or personal detail but the science effects everyone's lives. It can't tell you if you're going to win the lottery (at least I don't think it can) but it has unmistakable patterns that can alter your existence."

"I believe that you make your own future; and if you believe that your future is already set, then you will not want to try other things."

"Don't put much into it, but who doesn't like a horoscope every now and again?"

"I feel like the 'daily zodiac' fortunes are general and non-specific. They could mean anything to anyone."

"I believe in it if it's positive or makes sense."

"I believe astrology is a positive indicator of a person's personality/life but has no logical evidence of truth."

"I believe that astrology can maybe predict some small and broad parts of our future, but for the most part it can't predict the important more relevant facts."

"I don't believe that the position of stars have any bearing on who a person is in character or personality. if this were the case every person born on the same day would have very similar personalities. at minimum i know anecdotaly this is not true, but i imagine that world wide a study would show this to be factual. Nor do I believe that they can accurately be used to explain/predict or circumstances/ future."

Place these moon phases in chronological order in their cycle (starting with new moon).
(Only correct responses shown, in unscrambled order.)
New moon: first [83%]
Waxing crescent: second [71%]
First quarter: third [74%]
Waxing gibbous: fourth [69%]
Full moon: fifth [71%]
Waning gibbous: sixth [66%]
Third quarter: seventh [60%]
Waning crescent: eighth [57%]

Explain what is different about homework in a flipped class.
"You do 'homework' before you learn the material in class, and then are able to ask questions in class to clarify any confusion."

"It seems as though the flipped class approach for homework is to give you the materials for the class ahead of time to be more prepared for class, allowing for more interactive application."

"You should have already read and have an understanding of the material before you come to class that day."

Describe where/when most student learning occurs in a flipped class.
"Most student learning should occur independently before lecture or after lecture with the provided materials."

"On your own time, outside of school."

"It is learned at home, but questions are answered in class."

"Most of it can be done anywhere but it manily should be learned in class."

"Most student learning should occur while in class, practicing and applying the concepts you are learning."

Pick one piece of student advice from the previous semester, and discuss why you agree (or disagree) with it.
"'Go to class! Ask questions even if you think you sound dumb.' I used to be afraid to speak up in my classes for this very reason. I definitely agree with this advice because I've learned that if one person has a question it often means that other people may have the same question as well and it could end up being beneficial for the class or at least provide the one asking with further clarity."

"'Do well on the quizzes and then your grade on everything else will do better.' I definitely agree with this piece of advice. I've found that when a professor has regular quizzes I stay current on information and in turn do better in the class. While it's usually something I dread I think having a system that requires accountability will give me a better experience in the class."

"'In order to succeed, you must do the homework every week. If you do not, You WILL be lost when you come to class.' I can already see that for this class it makes a huge difference knowing the material for the next class. The majority of the homework is to prepare you for what you will need for the next class."

"'First rule of astronomy class: don't talk about astronomy class. Second rule: find a partner who is good at what you aren't and don't just find a buddy to piss and moan with.' I agree with this as it makes a lot of sense to partner with someone who can help you where you need it."

"'Come to every class, especially if you have a hard time understanding the content!' I agree with this advice because I've found that coming to class helps me understand things and realize that others probably have the same questions as me. Usually I get the answers I needed for my questions. If not, I can always ask my group to help me understand the concepts a little more."

"'Go to class. It helps your grade and is fun. Confusing parts of the book are thoroughly explained when you ask.' I can't say that I agree or disagree yet, though I do hope this is true. While the idea of a flipped class concerns me a bit, I do look forward to class time being dedicated to explaining confusing concepts from the reading."

"'Do homework! There isn't much but it's definitely worth it!' I chose this piece of advice because this homework seemed simple, but I know that it will add up to a good amount of points by the end of the semester.. which I feel many people overlook."

"'Do the work early, this class is made very convenient for you, everything you need to know is on the website. The reading assignments are informative and very creative. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions, this is the best class to ask questions in, and it can be confusing at some points, but P-dog makes it easy to understand and relatable.' I am already enjoying the fact the information for the week is on the website. I can access it from anywhere. I am not afraid to speak up if I am getting lost. Usually there is someone else who is wondering the same thing. This is the first 'fun' class I have had in a couple years. I am looking forward to this semester."

"'Don't be close-minded, do your homework, and open your mind to all the wonderful aspects of our universe and knowledge.' To me this is the most important piece of advice for this class. It's one thing to come to class, engage, do the homework etc... but to truly accept information into one's mind, they must first open it!"

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"I am a little confused on the cycle of moon phases. I think if we could go over it in class it will help me understand which way the cycle goes and nail the names down."

"Will you be providing study guides before we are given exams?" (Yes.)

"It was very efficient of you to make sure students are aware of what a flipped class exactly is before proceeding with this class. I had an instructor last semester who also used this teaching method but the way she explained it was awful and confusing. I didn't watch any of the online assignments because I didn't realize how important they were. Kudos to ya."

"P-dog has a unique method of teaching. I really like how you have your lessons posted online with easy access to your students. Your method is very modern and a good combination of everything which makes it easier for many students."

"In a flipped classroom if one student is very lost on a certain topic but the rest of the class has a complete understanding would you still take the time out of class to review the topic for that one student?" (Yes, typically while I'm circulating around the classroom during the group in-class activities. I'm also available during office hours and after class.)

"It was just weird to read that even in the day time the sky is actually full of stars. It sort of makes sense but not really. Like how are there stars in the sky if the sun is out?" (All those stars still there in the sky, it's just that the sun is bright enough to wipe them out.)

"Is there anything you wish you could teach in this class but can't due to time restraints? Or do you feel like you've covered just about everything you could hope to by the end of a semester? (I used to think there were additional subjects that there could be more time to cover during the semester; but now I just want two things covered: (a) making students realize their place in space and time in this universe; and (b) understanding the evidence for how we know our place in space and time in this universe.)

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