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Oceanography

Author Profile
Cynthia Venn

Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania,
a
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate
.

Summary

Oceanography is a course in the Geosciences where students learn about the environment in which marine organisms live, NOT all about marine organisms. We cover the physical characteristics of the oceans,including the geological, chemical and physical aspects of oceanography, as well as the current technology for studying the oceans. In addition, we will discuss some of the current issues concerning the oceans, such as ocean warming, extent of sea ice, and ocean acidification.


Subject: Geoscience:Oceanography
Resource Type: Course Information
Grade Level: College Lower (13-14)
Earth System Topics: Oceans
Course Size:
31-70

Course Context:

This is an introductory course with no prerequisites. Typically, about 20% of the students are either Biology, Environmental Science or Science Education majors. The remainder are typically taking the course to satisfy a general education requirement. The course is a three credit semester long course with no lab.

Course Goals:

  1. Students should be able to interpret major seafloor features with respect to Plate Tectonics processes.
  2. Students, at the end of the course, should be able to interpret the history of ocean conditions given a sequence of sediments in a sediment core.
  3. Students should be able to evaluate the effects of changes in temperature and salinity on the physical properties of seawater – density, freezing point, surface tension, hydrostatic pressure.
  4. Students should be able to evaluate the effects of changes in temperature and salinity on the behavior of light and sound in seawater.
  5. Students should be able to interpret maps of sea surface properties and analyze the relationships between those properties.
  6. Students should be able to formulate the relationship between atmospheric conditions and ocean circulation.
  7. Students should be able to evaluate the relationships between ocean circulation and primary productivity in the oceans.
  8. Students should be able to synthesize the factors that can affect local and global sea level rise and fall.


How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Online open book quizzes and class lectures help the students gain the basic knowledge needed in the course. A weekly in class map exercise first introduces the students to ocean features and geography of the oceans and seas, then builds on that knowledge with later exercises interpreting the relationships between plate boundaries, sea floor features, and volcanoes and earthquakes. Even later exercises require the students to interpret maps of sea surface properties such as SST and sea surface salinity with atmospheric and ocean circulation.
Assessment of whether the students have met the goals is based on their completion of the map exercises and their performance on selected questions on the exams.

Skills Goals

  1. Working in groups
  2. Becoming familiar with ocean-related current events


How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

The weekly 15 minute group sessions interpreting maps helps the students to learn to work together. An "Oceans in the News" assignment leads them to start looking for ocean-related news. I assess both of the above by looking over the exercises and giving them feedback.

Attitudinal Goals

  1. building students' confidence in understanding science
  2. developing students' awareness of environmental issues in the oceans and coasts


How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

  1. I assess improvement in the students' confidence in understanding science both by tracking their performance on assignments and by monitoring their participation in class discussions.
  2. I assess the improvement in students' awareness of environmental issues by evaluating their "Oceans in the News" assignments and by monitoring their class participation.

Assessment

I assess student learning by means of multiple choice and short answer/essay exams as well as by their performance on homework and in-class exercises.

Syllabus:

Oceanography Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 161kB Jun4 13)

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