Teach the Earth > Oceanography > Course Descriptions > Oceans and Atmospheres

Oceans and Atmospheres

Steven Hovan

Indiana University of Pennsylvania


Course provides an overview of several important ways that the ocean and our atmosphere are important to humans. It is designed to showcase how scientists study the earth and earth processes with a result of improving the way we live and interact with the planet.

Subject: Geoscience:Oceanography
Resource Type: Course Information
Grade Level: College Lower (13-14)
Earth System Topics: Oceans
Theme: Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Oceanography
Course Size:
greater than 150

Course Context:

This is an introductory course designed for non-science majors. No prerequisite courses are required. Approximately 50% of the students enrolled are freshman, the others are distributed among sophomores through seniors. The course is "lecture only" but students are able to take an optional 1cr laboratory section that accompanies course.

Course Goals:

Students should be able to:
  • describe that the Earth has one connected ocean that is shaped by geological and physical processes.
  • demonstrate knowledge that although the ocean is large, it is finite and resources are limited.
  • demonstrate an understanding about how the ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of the Earth.
  • demonstrate an understanding that the ocean is a major influence on weather and climate.
  • demonstrate an understanding that the ocean is largely unexplored but inextricably connected to humans.

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

Course goals are achieved mainly through assigned readings, lectures/discussions, short in-class group activities and a few out-of-class reading/writing assignments.

Skills Goals

  • Collaborative group work.

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

The main skill goal of lecture involves collaborative group work which is achieved through collaborative learning exercises and assessments during class and through pyramid-testing with a collaborative component to each test.

Attitudinal Goals

  • reducing student fear and apprehension of "science"
  • improving student awareness of global climate change issues
  • increasing general student excitement of science and desire to learn more about earth processes.

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

These goals are mainly accomplished by focusing topics on areas of interest/relevance to students and by linking topic discussions together (ie building one topic upon another). While difficult to assess goals directly, exam questions are constructed to reflect the connectivity of topics covered in the course.


Assessment is based partly on short in-class activities and questions, but mainly through a series of hourly exams. Exams are multiple-choice questions which are given in two-parts each - one portion taken individually and a second portion where students are allowed to collaboratively respond to questions.


Syllabus for Oceans and Atmospheres (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 165kB Jun4 13)

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