Initial Publication Date: January 16, 2007

Dorothea Ivanova

Department of Meteorology, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Dorothea Ivanova

What are the key issues related to the role of the affective domain in teaching geoscience that you would like to engage at the workshop?

Critical thinking in the learning process.
Motivating students and the affective domain.
Use of the internet course-related information, internet lab sessions and the affective domain in teaching geoscience.
Conceptual diagrams and interdisciplinary relationships and the learning affective domain.

What expertise or experience (in study of the affective domain or teaching of geoscience) will you bring to the workshop? How would you like to contribute to the workshop?

I participate in the "Critical thinking in the learning process" initiative in our university. We developed powerful conceptual diagrams to help the learning process and to stimulate the affective domain. I applied these techniques in teaching atmospheric science courses. I would like to contribute by introducing and discussing these concepts during the workshop.

Essay: Sifting through online information: Critical thinking in the learning process

Learning how to learn is an important component of geoscience education. In our age of overwhelming boom in science and rapidly advancing instruments and technologies—sifting through geoscience information is not simple. Weather Information Systems, Remote Sensing techniques, and Atmospheric Climate Models are constantly improving and the information becomes outdated fast. Therefore, having the ability to find reliable data sources on the Internet is crucial. This is an important skill that I am trying to develop in my students.

I have tried different critical thinking techniques and internet training lab sessions in each of the courses I teach.

  • In the beginning of the semester we start with the most fundamental questions the students should be able to answer at the end of the course. This is our goal, all of the learning modules during the semester contribute to finding and explaining the answers to these fundamental questions.
  • Then we introduce a conceptual diagram like the one below, that we discuss in the Atmospheric Thermodynamics class (provided as an example here):
    an example conceptual diagram for atmospheric thermodynamics
  • This diagram is blank in the beginning of the class. Only the Main course subject is included in the center. During my work with a team of colleagues interested in the critical thinking in the learning process, I was introduced to this powerful concept. We discovered that the students' critical thinking skills and interest in science, and geoscience understanding can be increased by creating conceptual diagrams, helping the learning process.
  • Each course module contributes to the relationship between the main course subject on the diagram and other subjects (disciplines) that are introduced through the course of the semester.
  • After each internet course-related lab session, the students themselves make the color connections between the subjects on the diagram, but not before they explain for their colleagues what information they have discovered online, and how what they found justifies the reinforcement of the relationship they create on the diagram. Then other students are encouraged to provide more evidence and their own findings and explanations about the relationship that was just created in green or blue. Therefore we employ the learning technique: find the information yourself -> restate in your own words -> give example -> prove your point. I believe this is a very powerful technique stimulating the critical thinking in the learning process.
  • At the end of each course we use the diagram completely finished by the students, the current course-related interesting articles and papers, found by them during the internet training lab works, other online information and everything that we study during the semester to answer the fundamental questions we posed in the beginning. The survey at the end of the course encourages me to think that the students find these techniques interesting and engaging which broadens the learning affective domain.