Ast 1040 Mastering Astronomy Setup

Here's a short video the publisher made about how to get setup with an account for this class: should play with whichever video player your computer has (Windows Media Player, Mac Quicktime, etc). Note that the ID# and password used in the video won't match this semester's codes, use the MAHABIG46081 course ID and the code I sent you in email.

An explanation of the way the UMD bookstore is handling this: when you put in the access code I sent around by email to register for your Mastering account, you'll get a subscription to the Mastering website and access to an ebook format textbook. If you continue in the class past the drop-n-add date (two weeks in), the bookstore will bill your account $80. Which sounds like a lot but is the cheapest option we could come up with. If you really like your paper, the bookstore sells a proper printed (albeit looseleaf) version of the text for $13.50, says “Custom Edition for the University of Minnesota Duluth” on it.

Why are we doing this? We already bought a book after all! And a clicker...

The goal of this class (from my perspective) is that you learn the astronomy and get good at figuring things out (rather than looking them up) in general. Your goal is that you get a science class crossed off your APAS report, and get a decent grade attached to those three credit hours in the bargain. This online thing will help us achieve both these goals in two ways.

First, research about how people learn says students learn a lot more stuff (more easily!) if they read about a new subject first; then engage brains enough to answer questions about that new subject; then see more explanations about how it works in class; and finally go work some more complicated problems about it. You might even agree that this sort of makes sense and might resolve to study like this. But even the most self-disciplined student finds it easier to keep on top the reading if it counts for points, and online assignments do that. Points for what you should be doing anyway!!!

Second, the only way to get good at science is to practice. Same as for playing an instrument or hitting a baseball, practice makes perfect (or at least less confused when the test paper hits the desk in front of you). In an ideal world (or the British university system) you and a few of your friends would be sitting down with an expert working through problems, getting feedback and suggestions as you go. The American university system doesn't work like this (although I do have office hours – use them!!!).

An online homework system does an ok (if not great) job at the same thing. And, it prevents you from taking the shortcut of googling up the answer to a problem from the book, copying it down right before lecture, and learning zero from that week's homework assignment. Yes, we profs aren't fools, and it's obvious that some large fraction of the homework assignments we receive were done in exactly this way. Which then carries through to the the test when that same fraction of students bomb the very same problem from homework which showed up again verbatim on the test, but they couldn't search for the answer at that point.