AAS 204th Meeting, June 2004
Session 58 Astronomy Education Research
Poster, Wednesday, June 2, 2004, 10:00am-7:00pm, Ballroom

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[58.02] Tracking Student Progress Through an On-Line Astro101 Module

W.H. Howard II (Univ. of Md Univ. College), B. Hufnagel (Anne Arundel CC)

We present an on-line module that helps introductory-level, non-science undergraduates extract information about neutron star binary star systems from X-ray light curves. The students interface directly with the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC) data through CollegeHera. Hera is a new service offered by HEASARC that enables complete interactive analysis of archived data products (see the separate Lochner & Pence paper this meeting).

One of the innovative features of this module is that it records detailed student progress and automatically reports this to the professor. As the student moves through the module, student answers to multiple choice and free response questions are recorded in a personal file on the server. This is an authenticated process. The student must fill out a registration form that includes their name, course, email, professor, and professorís email. This creates a session cookie for the student that stores the unique ID given to the user by the server. In turn, the unique ID is linked to the one file that records the studentís responses. When the module is completed, a brief confirmation email is sent to the student, excluding the studentís unique answers to discourage sharing with other students. Simultaneously, the professor entered during the registration receives an email with the student responses and their time of entry. PERL is used for all server-side programming, and form validation functions were written in JavaScript.

A laptop with internet access will be available at the poster for participants to explore the module. Learning goals and other education information for the module are at a related paper in this meeting, Hufnagel, Lochner & Howard.

This module required extensive cooperation with the Hera team, and was based on a module developed by James Lochner. Irina Nelson, formerly of the Office of University Programs at GSFC, conceived the overall project. Support for this work was provided by the Southeast Regional Clearinghouse (SERCH) and the Maryland Space Grant Consortium.

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