Library Research Lab: Does the Ozone Hole cause Global Warming?
I will demonstrate the activity using the audience as students - the specifics will depend on the logistics such as length of the demonstration, computer/internet access, etc. I will also bring along examples of student work.
In this 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.
This activity has several objectives. First, students are introduced to the library and how to critically and effectively evaluate online sources, for example using the CRAP Test. Second, students practice their writing skills by preparing a professional briefing that includes figures and an annotated bibliography. Third, students realize that the ozone hole does not cause global warming, but that there are many interesting connections between human activities, ozone, and climate change.
This activity is easily modified and thus usable in many different teaching and learning situations, depending - for example - if the course includes a lab section or the availability of library instruction and support. The question(s) used can also be changed to account for current events or course topics and themes.
I typically use this activity at the beginning of the semester for my larger general-education classes: typically non-science majors and First- and Second-Year students.
Having a lab section makes it somewhat easier as there is an extended period of time available to practice online research, source evaluation, and the actual writing of the briefing.
Why It Works
I'm not sure that this activity is particularly innovative, but it is effective. I find that many students think they know how to evaluate sources, especially online, but benefit from having a clear system such as the CRAP Test at their disposal.
I also find that many students tend to bad at the formalities of professional writing (e.g. inserting figures, figure captions, page breaks, etc.) and in this assignment they learn and practice these basic and valuable skills.
Presentation MediaStudent Handout for the Ozone Briefing (Acrobat (PDF) 186kB Jul12 17)
Presentation Slides Ozone Briefing (Acrobat (PDF) 663kB Jul12 17)