Global Warming in the Field

This activity was developed for the Teaching About Earth's Climate Using Data and Numerical Models workshop, held in October 2011.
Dawn Cardace
University of Rhode Island, Department of Geosciences
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see

This page first made public: Aug 29, 2011


This field trip involves group problem solving using aspects of glacial geology, paleoclimatology, and sea-level change predictions. The strengths are in getting students in the field in coastal RI: peaty/swampy terrain meets moraines meets coastal beaches.

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300-level course on climate

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

  • Team work, note-taking, dealing with inclement weather.
  • Familiarity with past footprints of glaciers in New England, scale of ice volumes and extent, and a sense of geologic time.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a stand alone trip taken in the mid-course. It helps students telescope out from individual perspectives to group thinking and more regional and global concepts of climate change and global warming.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Other skills goals for this activity

  • gaining field experience
  • using pacing, survey tapes, compass, inclinometer, rudimentary map drawing to scale
  • group work

Description of the activity/assignment

Field trip handout (Microsoft Word 52kB Oct27 10)

Determining whether students have met the goals

I request scans of field notes and their field responses to On-The-Fly questions (content and concept checks at each field stop), plus a one-page reaction essay that ties the experience to their larger understanding of geology, climates, and global warming.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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