J. Douglas Patterson


The following information comes from the named instructor and should describe characteristics general to courses as taught by this instructor. Individual sections of specific courses will deviate from this description in some respects.

Class Format

Face-to-face sections are a blend of traditional lecture, Q&A, multimedia materials, demonstrations, and quick hands-on exercises. In addition to the introduction and explanation of concepts and processes, there will also be demonstration of numeric problems and solutions with the students playing an active role in both the discussions and in the working through numeric examples.  In addition to the lecture periods, there are also weekly laboratory assignments during which students will explore various astronomical principles and phenomena in directed, hands-on exercises.  There will also be a minimum of five night-time observing sessions held at the Paul Tebbe Observatory on the roof of the CLB where students will view various constellations, planets, the Moon, and various deep-sky objects both with the naked eye and with our assortment of 8-inch and 12-inch telescopes.

Resource Use

The textbook and the lab manual for the face-to-face course are online and freely available.  It is imperative that students read the assigned sections in the text prior to coming to lecture and re-read those sections after lecture. Since many of the concepts and ideas covered in Astronomy are outside of our common terrestrial experience, multiple readings in concert with being attentive in lecture is a key part of being successful in the course.

Students are required to have a handheld scientific calculator for the exams and are strongly encouraged to bring them to lecture as all of the calculations for the examples demonstrated in lecture is expected to be performed by the students.

Online homework is assigned for each unit. Three quizzes per unit will cover the key topics within each unit. The first attempt for each quiz will be evaluated and count toward the total points earned in the course. Each quiz may be taken as many times thereafter for practice. The questions for each quiz are drawn randomly from a pool of questions.

Assessment

There are a number of tools used to assess the knowledge and understanding of students enrolled in Astronomy. Those tools include thirteen hands-on laboratory exercises, fifteen on-line quizzes which may be taken repeatedly for practice and reinforcement, in-class homework assignments, a research paper on one of the robotic explorer missions, five unit exams, and a final exam. The unit exams include material from both the lecture and laboratory portions of the course, and the final exam is comprehensive.

Homework Policy

There will be traditional homework assigned at intervals throughout the semester. Since the homework solutions are discussed immediately upon submission of the assignments, no late homework assignments are accepted.

There will be weekly laboratory assignments, many of which will require specialized equipment. Laboratory assignments are due at the end of the lab period. No late lab assignments are accepted.

Attendance Policy

In our astronomy course, we’re attempting to explain the universe in sixteen short weeks! This mandates a rapid pace through the course material. Poor attendance always adversely affects one’s performance in a course, but that is especially true in astronomy. Although there are no direct points penalties or rewards for attendance, attendance does have an effect on one’s grade. Those two attend well have a better chance of doing well, those who attend poorly tend to perform poorly.

Availability

I hold at a minimum five office hours throughout the week.  I am on campus and available far more regularly than those five posted hours, and I am always open to arranging a custom meeting time.  I am also available through email and by phone at 913-469-8500 ext. 4268 during normal business hours.