Team-based experiential learning in the Geosciences: lessons from an Ecohydrology course with a diverse student group
A team-based experiential learning oriented class using ecohydrologic theory and research as the main topic was pilot-tested at a cross-listed graduate/undergraduate class. The class was based on a research project serving as a vehicle to convey the students the opportunity to develop new skills such as applying basic principles of programming for managing large amounts of data in both the temporal and spatial domains. Throughout the class the students learned how to work with and manipulate large 3D matrices and to perform a series of related geospatial transformations to the data in order to be able to generate maps and more complex spatio-temporal analyses. All the while, they were gaining insights on important ecologic and hydrologic concepts by learning from their own projects results. For example, the concept of mass and energy conservation was ubiquitous throughout the class, and the students got strongly familiarized with the continuity equation as applied to water and energy transfers between land, ecosystems and atmosphere. The class final grade is weighted on the performance of the students in developing, a research project, presenting their continuous progress and final results in oral and written form. For the projects teams of 2 or 3 students with different levels of abilities for quantitative work were formed. The class was divided into three parts: 1) an introduction to the main concepts and theories of the topics addressed; 2) an introduction and training in data gathering, processing and analysis using object-oriented programming languages, and; 3) hands-on sessions by groups in which the students would work on their projects and present progress every week. This new format allowed a higher degree of interaction between the students and the instructor but also, among the different group of students working on different projects.
Hugo Gutierrez Presentation on Team-based Experiential Learning in The Geosciences (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 73.6MB Jul15 20)
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