Astronomy 115 FAQ



How much work do I need to do to pass the class?


For a three credit lecture class like ours, the average student will need to spend two hours outside class each week for every hour of lecture doing homework, reading, reviewing notes, and studying for exams. Since we have 2.5 hours of lecture time per week, you should budget about 5 hours a week of your own time for these activities. This is an average guideline. Some students may be able to get by spending fewer than 5 hours per week, but for many students and for particularly challenging topics you may need to spend more than 5 hours per week in order to fully synthesize the material and achieve deep levels of understanding. In general, I plan homework and reading assignments with this guideline in mind.



Why do you use Mastering Astronomy?


There are several reasons we use Mastering Astronomy: fast feedback on homework, time and resource savings, and high-quality homework questions. For large lectures such as Astronomy 115 where there are more than 100 students enrolled, having an online computer system for grading homework allows my students to get timely feedback on their work. For most of your homework questions, feedback will be instantaneous. The last time I used paper assignments graded by hand it took me about two weeks to grade and return each homework assignment, which I feel is far too long and disrupts the learning process. Handing back paper assignments, a process that used to take up a large amount of class time, is also eliminated. Finally, having homework available online means saving paper resources. That being said, no online system is perfect and Mastering Astronomy does have some issues. I believe that these issues are more than balanced by the benefits to the studentsÕ learning processes. There are also perks to using Mastering Astronomy in particular such as interactive diagrams and self-led tutorials.



How do I register for Mastering Astronomy?


Please refer to the link near the top of the previous page: ÒRegistration InstructionsÓ.



Are the slides posted online?


Yes! Go back to the class website and scroll down. The slides will be posted as PDF files with six slides per page.



I couldnÕt make it to class. What did I miss and how can I get caught up?


Go check the website! After each class I will post what we covered, the reading assignment, and the lecture slides. I am happy to answer any questions you have on the material during office hours, but please keep in mind that I donÕt have time to re-teach a class section for you one on one.


Will (insert topic here) be on the exam?


Before each exam I will post an outline of topics and lecture-tutorials that will be covered on the exam. Please refer to the topics list when studying for each exam.



IÕm worried about my grade. What can I do to bring it up?


The best way to raise your grade is to evaluate what youÕve been doing in class so far and look for ways to improve your habits as soon as possible. Waiting and ignoring the problem will not help, and I am happy to help you develop a study plan to help you get back on track. If youÕre behind on the reading, get ahead and try to do the readings more than once before class. If youÕve missed a lot of classes, change your habit and start attending every class (and donÕt be late!). Remember that participation does count towards your grade, so missing class means youÕre likely missing a few key points that can help raise your grade. With homework assignments, start them as early as you can and ask questions when you get stuck. You can also work in study groups with classmates (although do make sure that the primary goal of your study group is understanding the material!), which many students find beneficial because you can help each other with your weak spots. If your exam scores have been low, come to office hours to pick up your old tests and evaluate which sections you did poorly on so that you know what to study for the final exam. I can also go over test-taking strategies with you one-on-one or recommend tutoring services here on campus.