Whether you take this class on-campus or online, you might find that the hardest part is not the material - instead, it is staying current, and working at a steady, consistent pace throughout the term. And whether this is your first online class or not, you may find Astronomy to be especially hard to understand, with the tremendous vastness of space, and enormous variety of strange objects. Here are some tips that might help you be even more successful in this class:
A) Set a schedule & Make a Study Plan
Decide when you will study for the class, and stick to that schedule! In a
normal 16-18 week semester, plan for at least 10 hours per week of work, including lectures or online
content review (3 hours a week), reading the text (2-3 hours), doing homework
(2-3 hours), reviewing for exams (1+ hours), talking with me via the phone or
My recommended study plan, based on the feedback of students in the 23+ years of teaching classes, follows. It doesn't necessarily apply for everyone - hopefully you know how you learn best, and you can adapt the wonderful resources we have in our class to the way you will succeed.
B) Let me help you!
Talk to me between visits to the Planetarium, using email or even by phone if necessary. If you want to call, let's set a time first by email so I know to be in my office. And if you are on campus, drop by! My office is 2013, and I'm also often in the physics labs (1708) or Planetarium (1902). One secret to staying motivated in the class is to talk about what you are learning.
C) Use your resources!
Use the publisher's website to help you review material. Check out the syllabus for the link to our current textbook, and then search the publisher's website for a supporting site. Or email me and I'll do my best to help.
D) Practice Writing Essays.
You will know what kinds of essay questions are coming for the exam; try writing out your answers early, and sending them to me for review. I can give you feedback about your work, helping you to prepare before the exam.
E) Involve your friends and family!
If you cannot talk with me, talk with someone else about what you are learning. Practice explaining your essay question answers; see if your friends who are not in the class can understand you.
And last, but certainly very important...
F) Go outside at least two-three times each week, and just look at the sky!
The text and videos are full of interesting information about astronomy, but even so, part of the fun and beauty of the class is revealed personally, as you look at the stars and planets. Take your sky chart with you, and practice identifying the constellations that are visible. Better yet, take a friend or family member with you, and teach them what you know!
but.... If you do find that your schedule will not permit the necessary time to pass the class, or you find the material too difficult, please contact me by phone, note, or email, and let's discuss methods that might help your study. At least, please me know that you will withdraw from the class. Note that it is your responsibility to submit a drop card or drop a class via CLASS web online.