Library Research Lab: Does the Ozone Hole cause Global Warming?

Carsten Braun, Westfield State University
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Initial Publication Date: August 8, 2014 | Reviewed: December 14, 2014


In this lab activity students get to investigate a specific question (Does the Ozone Hole cause Global Warming?) and formalize their investigation as a briefing paper for the President of the United States. This activity is easily modified for other questions and thus usable in many different circumstances.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



First-Year students, typically undeclared or non-science majors. I use this activity in my Introduction to Physical Geography course as the very first lab activity at the start of each semester.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

The students should have all the necessary skills (research, word processing) from high school.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is the very first lab exercise in my class and for many students the first deliverable they ever hand-in for a grade in college.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

After completing this activity students will be able to:

  1. conduct academic research using the library and online sources.
  2. prepare a professional briefing paper as instructed.
  3. find and properly include relevant figures and photographs.
  4. prepare a professional annotated bibliography.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Information Literacy - finding and using reliable sources of information in the library and on the web.

Other skills goals for this activity

  1. Understand that the ozone hole does NOT cause global warming.
  2. Get introduced to the library and its resources.
  3. Follow instructions and deliver a professional product on-time.
  4. Create a proper annotated bibliography.

Description and Teaching Materials

This is a 4-page Google Doc hand-out:
  • Page 1 is the lab 'wrapper'
  • Page 2 is the description of the activity
  • Page 3 provides tips and resources
  • Page 4 is the grading sheet

Presidential Briefing Paper Activity (Acrobat (PDF) 246kB Aug8 14)

Google Doc @

Google Presentation @

Teaching Notes and Tips

I use this lab activity in-conjunction with a library information session where our instructional librarians introduce the students to the resources provided by the library and how to find reliable information on the web. The question (Does the ozone hole cause global warming?) serves as a framework and specific goal.

  • The question can be changed as appropriate for a given class, but this briefing paper assignment works best with a narrow question with a clear answer and interesting broader connections.
  • I find that it is helpful to give very detailed layout and formatting instructions as an example of what a professional document has to look like.
  • I make students sign the cover sheet to create a level of accountability.
  • Many students will not know how to professionally format a MS Word document, copy/paste figures, or how to prepare an annotated bibliography. Page 3 of the hand-out includes helpful tips and additional online sources.
  • I include invitations for additional help and support in bold red letters.
  • The grading table is included as Page 4 so that the students have an idea of what I am looking for.

As this is (for many) their first graded assignment in college I allow for revision and re-submission without penalty.


The grading sheet is included as Page 4.

References and Resources

Resources and links are included as Page 3.