Engaging Students with an OOI Ocean Data Lab Focused on Factors that Affect Primary Productivity
In this teaching demonstration, I will give a brief overview of the OOI Ocean Data Labs that are available, show how to access them and how they relate to many important topics typically covered in introductory courses. Then, participants will access the Factors Affecting Primary Productivity Data Lab on the OOI Ocean Data Lab website. I will share my screen and participants will act as students as I guide them through the data lab. I will provide student feedback and discuss teaching tips for using the data lab in your own course. Guided handouts for use in the classroom will be provided.
OOI Ocean Data Labs feature web-based interactive "widgets" that allow students to interact with pre-selected data from the OOI (Ocean Observatory Initiative) and are freely available online at the OOI Ocean Data Labs website (https://datalab.marine.rutgers.edu/) for anyone interested in using them in their courses. In this teaching demonstration, I will highlight one of these data labs, focused on primary productivity, and describe how it was incorporated into the laboratory section of an introductory oceanography class at a community college. The topic was chosen because many students have a preconceived misconception that temperature is the most important factor controlling primary productivity in the ocean. Student learning was assessed using pre-lab and post-lab quizzes and students shared their experience in working through the data labs in anonymous surveys. By working through this data lab, students were able to discover for themselves how patterns of primary productivity correlate with nutrient levels and light levels and not with temperature. Arguably more importantly, students also developed skills at graph interpretation and scientific reasoning as they worked through the data lab and reported that they enjoyed the interactive nature of the widgets and the ability to work with authentic, current oceanographic data.
The Factors Affecting Primary Productivity Data Lab was incorporated into the laboratory section of an introductory oceanography class at a community college. The students were freshman or sophomore non-science majors. These data labs can also be used in a lecture-based setting as inquiry-based, interactive in-class activities.
Why It Works
Idealized figures found in introductory textbooks do not give students a true sense of what authentic oceanographic data look like or help students to develop the scientific inquiry skills needed to interpret such data. A tremendous amount of authentic, current oceanographic data is being continuously collected by the Ocean Observatory Initiative (OOI), funded by the National Science Foundation, from arrays of instruments at seven locations throughout the ocean. OOI Ocean Data Labs were developed by educators to make this data accessible for use in classrooms. The data labs help students discover oceanographic concepts on their own rather than be told about them and this active learning can increase student success in understanding topics that are typically troublesome for students.