Teach the Earth > Oceanography > Teaching Activities > Collaborative Research Project

Collaborative Research Project

Michele LaVigne, Bowdoin College
Author Profile

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 http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: May 29, 2013


This is a semester-long research project that I use to provide students with the opportunity to design a class-wide collaborative research project in connection with a local community partner.



This project is used in a 200-level marine biogeochemistry course

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

This assignment (attached) is not concept-specific. We used it to address a specific question about ocean acidification in our area, but the format can be applied to any topic.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a culminating project.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

I use this assignment to offer students the opportunity to research ocean acidification, carbonate chemistry, calcification, nutrient cycling, and coastal processes, but the assignment posted here can be applied to any topic.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

  1. Become familiar with the primary literature relevant to a problem
  2. Pose an original question that can be tested in the field to address the problem.
  3. Write a research proposal
  4. Design a collaborative project
  5. Plan and prepare the logistics for conducting collaborative fieldwork.
  6. Collect and analyze data
  7. Synthesize data in the context of the initial question and background literature.
  8. Present your data as an oral presentation to the research team.
  9. Synthesize the collaborative data set as a group and design one poster that communicates our results to the public.
  10. Write a manuscript in the format of a journal article summarizing the results of the collaborative research and implications of your findings.

Other skills goals for this activity

Collaborating on a project, organizing field work logistics, geochemical analyses in the lab, literature searches, scientific writing.

Description and Teaching Materials

This is an activity that is assigned in the first week of class. Ideally it is incorporated into a course with lab periods. The first few lab periods are spent introducing students to new techniques (field sampling, common biogeochemical lab techniques, etc.). The students then apply these techniques to address a question in a project of their own design.

Final Research Project Assignment (Microsoft Word 35kB May29 13)

Teaching Notes and Tips


Assessment occurs throughout the project including:
annotated bibliographies, project proposals, peer reviews of proposals, group research presentations, a collaborative class poster, and a final research paper.

References and Resources

New TTE Logo Small

Oceanography resources from across Teach the Earth »

Oceanography resources from Teach the Earth include:

Specialized collections including

or search

Intro Geoscience resources from across Teach the Earth »