"A Report on First Year A Course on Global Change at the "
A Report on First Year: A Course on Global Change at the University of Northern Colorado Dr. Michael R. Taber and Michael J. Urban Department of Earth Sciences University of Northern Colorado Dr. Susan Buhr, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Dr. Eugene Takle, Iowa State University UNC • 11,000 students • PhD granting university • About 20% are first generation college students • About 15% transfer from 2-year colleges • Equal populations from suburban and rural settings Earth Science Department • ~150 undergraduates in five emphasis areas: – Meteorology (25%) – Geology (10% – General earth science (10%) – Environmental (10%) – Secondary teaching (25%) • Graduate MA program in Earth Science (many are future, current, or former teachers) Project Goals • Create a new capstone course for general, environmental, and secondary teaching majors in Earth science • Create data driven, problem-based investigative modules, which in parallel serve as models of good pedagogy • Facilitate asynchronous dialog between UNC and Iowa State University students • Develop a model method for evaluating ESSE instruction First Year Results Overview • Emphasis on depth, rather than breadth • Course (3 cr.) offered as a special topics in Meteorology (easier to get through curriculum review process) – ~ 5 lab hours: 1 “lecture” hour • Course taught in Cartography lab, rather than traditional lecture • Text: Our Changing Planet by McKenzie Demographics • 11 students survived passed the drop deadline – 2 graduate (both future teachers) – 1 undergraduate teaching – 1 undergraduate meteorology – 4 general – 3 environmental Scope and Sequence Topic Task Tool Short Term vs. Comparison Temperature Excel Long Term data from NIWOT LTER and Vostok Ice Core Global Energy Quantify radiative fluxes WorldWatcher Balance on large spatial and temporal scales Biogeochemical Create concept map Web-based cycles (Carbon, and water, nitrogen) PowerPoint simulations El Niño/La Niña Create baseline WorldWatcher climatology and report on anomalies Scope and Sequence, continued Topic Task Tool Land Use (Intro to Use surface cover data ArcGIS GIS) to locate a suitable site for a power plant Modeling Climate: Gain insight on how JAVA simulations Statistics and climate models predict DaisyWorld changing conditions Stratospheric and Compare generative NASA’s Image Tropospheric and destructive process 2000; TOMS; Ozone of O3 EPA’s AirWatch Environmental Understand ES index for CEISIN’s ESI Sustainability purpose of policy viewer Evaluation • Pre-post concept mapping – Initially, students limited in making earth system connections – Concept mapping helps students make connections between small and large scale concepts (e.g., short and long term CO2 fluxes) • Dialog (class) – students reluctant to dialog due to unfamiliarity with topics (and presence of graduate students) • Dialog (with ISU) – Good initial discussion, but failure to follow up (without the motivation to do so) • Poster research projects - provided students with an authentic data-rich opportunity to study something they cared about Evaluation, continued Focus group on Course Strengths Strength Mean Likert Score (Std. Dev.) Using technology 4.6 (0.5) Working with real data 4.7 (0.5) Open discussion 4.6 (1.0) Formal lab papers 4.0 (1.0) Evaluation of First Year Delivery Focus group on Course Strengths Strength Mean Likert Score (Std. Dev.) Opportunity to improve scientific 4.0 (0.9) writing Interdisciplinary Earth Science 4.6 (0.7) Content Value of the text 3.7 (1.0) Lecture after experience working 4.2 (0.8) with data External Observations • Observations revealed a high level of student interest in the course, as evidenced by: – Early arrivals to an 8 am course – Student dialogue about course material before class start. • Full participation by students, either during whole group discussions or as pairs conducting computing labs. – Students remaining at the conclusion of the class • “…do stuff instead of hearing about it” • “…recognized more [content] in the PowerPoint slides after working with the data” Summary • Students recognized the benefits of the innovative learning cycle pedagogy – authentic experience with data analysis and data analysis tools – the interdisciplinary, Earth systems approach taken in the scientific content • Students were engaged in the course material as indicated by course attendance, vigorous dialogue and voluntary lingering after the class period Summary, continued changes for the next offering • Data first approach is inherently less structured; more structure in alignment with new text/readings • Pre-test on technology • Facilitate class and online dialog with required roles (leader, commentator, reporter, etc…) • Online offering (involve more teachers through UNC’s MA in Natural Science)