Course Icon


Chat times for 2023-2024
Tues 1:00p-2:30p ET / 10:00a - 11:30a PT

Dr. Christe Ann McMenomy

SO Icon

Procedures, Methods, Goals, and Expectations

Astronomy Course Procedures and Methods

The heavens declare the glory of God;
  the skies procalim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
  night after night they display knowledge.

Psalm 19: 1-2

This page provides a high level overview of the course to help you decide whether or not it fits your academic goals. There is a lot more detail on how to manage your time and do your work adequately to meet course expectations in the student study guide under "Student Helps" that you should carefully review once you decide to take the course.

Course Goals, Methods, Procedures, and Expectations


We have several goals in this course:

While the final goal may loom largely on your horizon as you consider college plans, and may threaten to eclipse the others, it is really the least important. Mastery of the material and methods of a science will not only mean you are prepared to take an exam in that field, it will also mean that you have the ability to remember and apply what you have learned long after exams become a distant memory (and they will).

Methods and Procedures

We'll employ a number of methods to learn the material. This outline provides a brief overview of these. The Student Survival Guide under "Student Helps" in the menu for this course provides more detailed information about each area, along with suggestions on how to manage your time, approach mathematically-based homework assignments, write essays and lab reports, and study for exams. There is also a Parent's Guide with suggestions on how parents can help their students succeed in the course.


The "Texts" link will list the required textbook and software that are required for the course. When you receive your textbook, spend some time becoming familiar with the table of contents, order of materials, special helps, glossaries, and indexes. Science texts frequently have tables of important formulae, constants, units, and other basic information that you will need throughout the course. Be sure to check the the course schedule (see course website below) so that you understand how the textbook readings fit into the overall course plans.

This course requires that you download and install several software applications (all free). You should do this before the start of the course, so that we can go over their operations and use them in our chat discussions.

All reading assignments for the semester will be posted in the Course Syllabus and on the Moodle course calendar at the beginning of the course. You are expected to read the material before attending the chat session. In the first few weeks of the course when we focus on the tools of astronomy, we will spend two weeks on each chapter. For most of the rest of the course, we will cover one chapter of the text per week. This material is targeted for freshman college students, but my experience is that most high school students can handle it if they pace themselves.

Class Meetings (Chats): One per week

Our chat sessions are discussions, not lectures, so come prepared to ask and answer questions, speculate, clarify, and explore ideas.

You attend chat sessions by going to the Scholars Online Website, clicking on "Chat Login", and selecting from the chats listed for your courses meeting that day. If you are a new student, you should participate in a Moodle Orientation session during the last weeks of August to verify that you have chat access and know how to use it prior to the start of classes.

Course Website

The course website contains the teacher's additional materials for this year's course. Most important, it will have

Weblectures allow you to read teacher-written explanations and examples at your convenience before chat, so that we can spend our chat time in discussion, in team exercises, and answering your particular questions.

Scholars Online Moodle

The server at Scholars Online will host our chats. The Moodle (also on the server) contains the forums and mastery exercises for your class assignements, chapter or unit review quizzes, and the a matching schedule for our work. Access will be limited to class members. We also have the ability to create Wiki entries (good for learning terminology), take surveys, and work on group activities. Students performing labs for the lab option will have forums for their work in these areas. Since only members of the class will see your postings, you should feel free to use the class forum to ask questions and contact each other about class business, and to continue discussions for which we may not have time in class.

All Moodle content is subject to teacher and administrator review. Additionally, parents will be assigned "Mentor" status for their own students, and have the ability to review assignments, due dates, missed work, and grades.


Homework assignments usually consist of mastery exercises for each chapter, broken into manageable sections, and taken and completed on the Moodle. You should complete as much of the assigned sections before chat so that you can bring questions to class on any concepts or problems that stump you. You may continue to complete the material after the chat date and return to the exercise any time for review. You must achieve a minimal passing score on the mastery exercise before you can take the related quiz.

The mastery exercises include essay-answer questions, diagram labeling, multiple choice and matching exercises, and computational questions. These exercises are for your benefit. Again: it is really important that you attempt the mastery exercises assignments before chat so that we can identify and resolve any problems in chat before you attempt the chapter quiz or start work on the next assignment.


Labs are optional; see the labs page for more information. The labs for this course often involve nighttime or very early morning observation of planetary or stellar phenomena. You should be prepared to spend one to two hours of observing time, and one hour of lab write-up for each lab that you attempt.


Moodle Quizzes: Take the online quizzes after you have completed your mastery exercises, the chat discussion of that work, and any self-drill, but before the deadline listed at the website for the quiz. Quiz scores are recorded and considered in determination of your final grade.


Exams will be given at the end of each term. These must be taken under parental supervision and uploaded to the Moodle for grading. In addition, the proctoring parent must send a Moodle message verifying that the exam was taken under the specified conditions. These exams usually contain 50-60 multiple choice questions, similar to those on the online quizzes, 4-6 computation problems, similar to those that will be assigned for homework, and a formal research report which you complete by the exam date. Regular participation in chat discussions, completion of all homework assignments, drilling on vocabulary, and routine completion of the online quizzes are your best preparation for successful completion of the course.


You are expected to:

You may expect me to: