Hot Topics in Global Warming

Elizabeth Johnson
James Madison University
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Students locate and write about current climate change research using the 2007 IPCC report. This information literacy project is designed to help students learn how to find, read, and explain peer-reviewed scientific research to a general audience.

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This project is used in an introductory Earth Systems and Climate Change (see course profile) with no lab component that fulfills a general education requirement.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

None. We provide supplementary materials and a JMU librarian comes to class and shows students how to use the library website.

How the activity is situated in the course

The project is broken into three parts, and students work on the project through the entire semester. It is complementary to the topics discussed in the course, but it is a stand-alone exercise.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

This varies with the topic chosen for the project.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Read, interpret, and communicate information about climate science correctly and in an understandable, interesting way.

Other skills goals for this activity

Find and evaluate scientific resources

Description of the activity/assignment

The first part of the project asked students to locate a peer-reviewed scientific research article found in the bibliography of the 2007 IPCC Working Group II Report. A librarian gave a 30 minute presentation in class on how to locate scholarly journals, government documents, and other materials using the JMU library website. Each student turned in a worksheet on which they listed their resource, provided a brief explanation of the methods and results of the research, and why they chose this paper. Each student was then asked to write a newsletter article that communicated results from a peer-reviewed climate change study in an understandable, interesting way to their fellow students and the general public. Students shared the content of their newsletter articles in small groups in class on the due date.

Determining whether students have met the goals

I use a rubric, which includes criteria such as writing quality, including the scientific methods and results in the article, writing using the student's own words and not quotes from the scientific paper, an impartial tone.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

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