Oral Session I: Student Learning

Wednesday 12-2:30pm PT / 1-3:30pm MT / 2-4:30pm CT / 3-5:30pm ET Online
Oral Session Part of Oral Session I: Student Learning

Session Chairs

Laura Rosales Lagarde, Nevada State College at Henderson
Barbra Sobhani, Red Rocks Community College

Schedule

12:05 PT / 1:05 MT / 2:05 CT / 3:05 ET
Campus as Conservation Classroom
Barbra Sobhani, Red Rocks Community College
Janet Stomberg, Red Rocks Community College

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Place-based learning develops a sense of belonging for the student and an investment in the local community. By drawing upon regional history, ecology, issues, and data, learners are shown clear ties between curriculum and their lives and experiences. At Red Rocks Community College, the Honors Program has a focus on interdisciplinary problem solving and student leadership development. The students look at a wicked problem, like climate change, from many different lenses as it is woven into the honors courses. Embracing the PBL framework for the honors curriculum has been the inspiration to build up our campus as an ecological classroom to explore climate change. Several long-term conservation projects centered on our campus are underway. The first project to launch was an investigation of invasive plant species on campus. Students took part in a service-learning project with a community organization to do invasive species removal at a local park. When we returned to campus, the students noticed that we have the same plants invading parts of our campus as well. There is now a long-term effort to map and remove invasive plant species and restore natives to those spaces. This launched a camera trap project to monitor the wildlife. The wildlife images are being utilized in a number of ways, including as a data set for a machine learning class. The Honors students have now expanded their focus to include the campus community gardens, helping to build new beds, a greenhouse and a native plant demonstration garden. Involvement in these campus projects has led many students to focus on similar projects and themes in the capstone course. Some students have gone on to transfer into environmental four-year programs. Our next step is to expand these projects through undergraduate research opportunities through programs like LSAMP, to further engage underrepresented students in STEM.
12:20 PT / 1:20 MT / 2:20 CT / 3:20 ET
Polar Mystery: Using Puzzles to Connect Youth to Polar Regions
Karina Peggau, Ohio State University-Main Campus
Jason Cervenec, Ohio State University-Main Campus
Sue Hogan, Ohio State University-Main Campus
Emily Kridel, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio
Ellen Altermatt, Carleton College

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Inspired by the popularity of free choice puzzles, including escape rooms and murder mystery kits, the team developed a multi-week "Arctic Mystery", through which youth explore polar data to solve the mystery of a scientist who has disappeared. Youth must determine where the scientist traveled, when she arrived, and the circumstances of her disappearance using evidence and warrants to make a series of claims. Evidence for the mystery includes information on Arctic flora and fauna, weather and climate, climate change impacts, journal entries, laboratory notes, and images related to the scientist's research. Meeting each week via Zoom, youth work together to discuss the evidence and share ideas in small groups with facilitators guiding discussion only when necessary. Engagement continues asynchronously via print materials mailed to youth and an online tool, Padlet. While not tested in person yet due to the pandemic, the project team anticipates materials being useable with in-person programs. Data from post-session youth surveys from two pilots suggest high engagement throughout the program, and youth have reported feeling "like a scientist" and have expressed excitement in participating in future mystery activities. Support materials are provided for facilitators, who are not required to be experts in science or polar regions. A second mystery kit is in development and will feature early-career polar researchers, their data, and research sites. These kits are part of Polar Literacy, an NSF-funded initiative focused on developing a series of Out of School Time (OST) programs to 1) communicate the importance of polar regions in an engaging format and 2) foster youth connected with a scientific self-identity through data activities and interaction with early-career polar researchers. Each program is designed to satisfy the overarching goals of Polar Literacy, while simultaneously being data-rich, place-based, modular, and covering a variety of topic areas.
12:35 PT / 1:35 MT / 2:35 CT / 3:35 ET
Polar ENgagement through GUided INquiry (PENGUIN)
Lea Fortmann, University of Puget Sound
Penny Rowe, NorthWest Research Associates
Steven Neshyba, University of Puget Sound
Rachel Wade, Edmonds Community College
Haiyan Cheng, Willamette University
Tim Guasco, Millikin University
Amanda Mifflin, University of Puget Sound
Isha Rajbhandari, University of Puget Sound
William Pfalzgraff, Chatham University
Kena Fox-Dobbs, University of Puget Sound
Grace Stokes, Santa Clara University

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Including climate-related topics in the classroom is crucial to the education of the next generation and has the potential to enhance student interest. The polar regions play an important role in climate change and are particularly sensitive to it, and the richness and interdisciplinary nature of polar research suggests its potential to enhance student learning in a wide variety of courses. To address the challenge of educating students about polar research, we developed Polar ENgagement through GUided INquiry (PENGUIN) modules. PENGUIN modules use Excel, R Studio, or Jupyter Notebooks to give a wide variety of students, including both STEM and non-STEM majors, hands-on experience working with polar research.We have developed PENGUIN modules (https://serc.carleton.edu/penguin/index.html) for a variety of topics: heat diffusion through permafrost, electromagnetic radiation and the greenhouse effect, trends in penguin populations, the heat required to melt Arctic sea ice, processing images of sea ice, economic valuation of the Arctic, investigating long-term climate through ice cores, and protecting communities from sea level rise exacerbated by polar ice melt. These modules have been taught in lower-level courses on Environmental Science, Physics, and Economics, and upper-level courses in Quantum Mechanics, Thermodynamics, and Computer Science. Modules can be modified for different courses and levels.Survey results indicate that students (n~140) overall enjoyed the modules and reported gains in course knowledge, climate knowledge, comfort with the computational tool, and importance placed on polar regions in the context of climate change (p <0.01 for Mann-Whitney U-test on increase in median Likert-scale response). These sentiments were echoed by the professors who taught the modules, who also enjoyed engaging with peers, connecting to current research, and thinking about teaching. Next steps focus on further module development and testing student knowledge gains.
12:50 PT / 1:50 MT / 2:50 CT / 3:50 ET
Learning statistics through Ice Core Isotopes
Penny Rowe, NorthWest Research Associates
Lea Fortmann, University of Puget Sound
James Bernhard, University of Puget Sound
Jacob Price, University of Puget Sound
Timothy Chalberg, Science and Math Institute
Steven Neshyba, University of Puget Sound

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Polar regions are particularly sensitive to climate change and play an important role in it. The richness and interdisciplinary nature of polar research suggests a potential to enhance student learning. To harness this potential, we developed Polar ENgagement through GUided INquiry (PENGUIN) modules, which use a computational tool to give a wide variety of students hands-on experience working with polar research.Here we present a PENGUIN module in which students explore how isotope concentrations in polar ice cores can be used to reconstruct temperature over the last 800,000 years. We use a model-based inquiry framework in which students develop and refine a mental model, starting by learning about how temperature influences isotopic concentrations in Antarctic snow. Students think about how to quantify the temperature-isotope relationship, formulating hypotheses and questions. They then explore what kinds of data and analysis are needed. Using R Studio, students then collect, visualize, and perform linear regression on measurements of current Antarctic temperatures and isotope concentrations. They apply their results to derive a long-term record of temperature from an ice core. In small groups, students compare findings and conclusions, and come to a consensus about results. Finally, students present findings in a whole-class discussion. Additional topics include exploring CO2 vs temperature in the modern and ice core record, and discussing physical models and correlation vs. causation.To test the efficacy of the module, we are developing a knowledge test, with the input of student perspective through focus groups. Deployment of the new module and knowledge test is planned to start in fall 2021, and is expected to lead to improvements in the module as well as improved understanding of how students learn. The resulting module will be disseminated via the PENGUIN page on the SERC website: https://serc.carleton.edu/penguin/index.html.
1:05 PT / 2:05 MT / 3:05 CT / 4:05 ET
Teaching Research Methods to Graduate Students
Allison Luengen, University of San Francisco

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This presentation will explore techniques for teaching students in a Master of Science (M.S.) program how to conduct research using secondary sources. Although students are asked throughout their undergraduate studies to write research papers, 47% of students said they did not feel at all prepared to write a 50-page research paper addressing an original research question and another 24% felt only somewhat prepared. In the capstone course in our M.S. in Environmental Management Program, students write a one-semester literature-based project on a research topic of their choosing. Students can prepare for their project by taking an eight-week course called Research Methods. In this presentation, I will discuss strategies used in Research Methods to prepare students to conduct research. When asked to choose the three most valuable components of Research Methods, 76% of students selected the course's component on learning the logistics of research, including conducting a library search and using a reference manager. In addition, 76% of students selected the course's role in providing a structure to develop research ideas. The students completed weekly assignments and received extensive feedback. Many students commented that the course was more work than other courses. Students also felt that they benefited from writing a research proposal and receiving individual feedback on assignments. The most highly rated in-class exercise was a review of the library repository of past M.S. Projects. The course was taught in a remote format due to the COVID pandemic, but upon completion of the course, only 12% of the students thought that it should be taught entirely in person in the future. After completion of research methods, students felt more prepared to complete their research projects, with 12% of students saying they felt somewhat prepared, 53% saying they felt reasonably well prepared, and 35% saying that they felt well prepared.
1:20 PT / 2:20 MT / 3:20 CT / 4:20 ET
PlanetQuest: an RPG-based course on planetary exploration
David Sparks, Texas A & M University

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PlanetQuest is an asynchronous online course that uses mathematical models to explore how planets are created, and what characteristics of planets makes them habitable. Students work through sequential modules in which they use computer models (coded in spreadsheets or in apps) to analyze a dataset or explore how size, solar system position and other variables affect a planet. Module topics include determining a planet's mass and orbit from radial velocity measurements of stars, condensation of solar systems, composition and layering of terrestrial bodies, internal heat generation behind tectonics and magnetic fields, and the ethics of planetary colonization. While the math behind each process is provided, the focus is on developing physical intuition, so the course should be accessible for early-career non-science majors.The modules are motivated and linked together by a role-playing narrative: the student is a crewmember aboard a colonization spaceship on a long-term mission to find a new planet to terraform and inhabit. The student begins as a junior science officer, who is tasked with recommending a target planet. The student receives instruction through video messages provided by this ship's artificial intelligence program (the instructor). As students complete modules, their characters are promoted and gain access to more data and more influence over decisions on the ship. Ultimately the student chooses a particular planet for colonization. A large set of potential solar systems to explore is synthetically-generated and a sample is randomly assigned to each student, so there is no single "right" answer for students to share. Decision points are introduced periodically (which promotion path to pursue, which side to take in a mutiny) and they are eventually teamed up with other student-players, so the experience is slightly different for each student.
1:35 PT / 2:35 MT / 3:35 CT / 4:35 ET
Insights Into Pandemic Use of Online Teaching and Learning Mineral Identification Website and Value for Post-Pandemic Planning
Scott Brande, University of Alabama at Birmingham

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The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 abruptly transported many teaching and learning environments from a traditional on-campus setting to virtual meetings online. The shift away from a campus classroom and the physical specimens for mineral (and rock) identification laboratory activities created immediate crises for many geoscience instructors. A critical need for online assets that could substitute for physical specimens drove individuals and organizations to seek out, aggregate and disseminate information about existing online resources, and to create webinars to share experiences, strategies, and to promote community connections. One perspective into the national use of online resources for a mineral identification laboratory activity may be developed from my website omg.georockme.com which I first publicized at EER19 (pre-pandemic) and for which significant analytics (anonymized) are available. From Jan. 1, 2020 to March 2, 2021, some 28,000 users of omg.georockme.com are recorded, with over 534,000 page views. The geographic origins of user hits is highly unequal (not unexpectedly). Users came to omg.georockme.com via different pathways, including organic search, links publicized in forums, and word of mouth. Correspondence I received from colleagues, including those from previous Rendezvous meetings, confirms that personal connections are also an important pathway for the dissemination of information about these resources. Other analytics for user devices, operating systems, and browsers, illuminate interesting insights into student resources to which online assets are delivered. Although the pandemic continues at this time (March 2021), plans at many universities are to re-open campuses for fall 2021 instruction. Critical needs for online resources for geoscience education will likely not stop with the diminishment of the pandemic. Discussions now of how to enhance and modify these resources for a longer, post-pandemic lifetime may produce new benefits that expand geoscience education in ways not predictable before.
1:50 PT / 2:50 MT / 3:50 CT / 4:50 ET
Bringing meaningful and diverse narratives into learning geology and paleontology through story maps
Christy Visaggi, Georgia State University
Megan Rich, Georgia State University
Evan R. Jones, Georgia State University
Cameron Muskelly, Georgia State University
Leonardo A. Maduro-Salvarrey, Georgia State University
Candice E.N. Simon, Georgia State University
Robert A. Wilson, Georgia State University

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Stories can be used to make connections that not only convey information but bring emotion and deeper meaning into educational experiences. They offer an opportunity to humanize learning, foster community, and promote a sense of belonging. Stories that have meaningful connections to familiar landscapes or culture can be particularly engaging by building on prior knowledge and a sense of place. However, stories aren't often emphasized as part of learning, as outcomes are usually focused on memorizing facts, acquiring specific skills, etc. Storytelling remains underutilized in the instruction of paleontology and geology yet offers a way to challenge existing narratives that often aren't inclusive to all identities. We share here several projects focused on developing resources that emphasize storytelling in geology and paleontology through ArcGIS story maps. Teams and individual students at Georgia State University, a minority-serving institution in downtown Atlanta, helped to create these story maps with education and outreach goals in mind as part of their coursework or related efforts in the Department of Geosciences. These story maps include a) a focus on diverse individuals who have made important contributions in the history of geosciences globally, b) stories at the intersection between paleontology and culture, c) explorations of Georgia building stones in recognizable structures across the nation and beyond, and d) stories that draw attention to the history of oppression in studying the geology in building stones around the country. Our presentation will additionally review how story maps can be used for assessments, particularly in encouraging students to synthesize and communicate their knowledge, organize information in useful ways, and engage in reflection as part of experiential learning frameworks. By sharing these story maps more broadly here, we hope to expand access to these meaningful narratives and inspire others to embrace more storytelling in student learning.
2:05 PT / 3:05 MT / 4:05 CT / 5:05 ET
Place-based learning based on the Nevada Climate-ecohydrological Assessment Network (NevCAN): NSF Nevada Geopaths
Laura Rosales Lagarde, Nevada State College at Henderson
Jennifer Edmonds, Nevada State College at Henderson
Richard Jasoni, Desert Research Institute
Barbara Graham, College of Southern Nevada
Paul Buck, Nevada State College at Henderson
Cynthia Shroba, College of Southern Nevada

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NevCAN provides data to develop class and outreach material to learn about Nevada's Basin and Range topography and its influence on the water, soil and ecological resources. It consists of 12 monitoring stations installed in two elevation transects along northern and southern Nevada. Variables measured include precipitation, air temperature, wind speed and direction, incoming solar radiation, relative humidity, barometric pressure, soil moisture and temperature at several depths. This data has been used as the base to develop educational and outreach material for undergraduate students at Nevada State College and College of Southern Nevada, with the support of Desert Research Institute through the NSF supported Nevada Geopaths Program (http://nsc.edu/geopaths). Limiting the spatial and temporal scale introduces non-science and science majors to data analysis while more complex datasets allow upper division students to apply class concepts. NevCAN data helps to answer: How does incoming solar radiation change seasonally? How does daily temperature change during a month? How vegetation zones will be modified due to global warming? How deep will water infiltrate after a winter or a summer storm? How do you organize "big data" to show patterns in a graph? How does the weather change going up a mountain? Why do you find tall trees only at the top of a mountain? What is the relationship between monthly average temperature and precipitation at a site, and how does it change between sites? What does the USDA soil description at each site tells us about the soil development at each site? What is the contribution of Biotic Crusts to the Mojave Desert?Students relate the data to places they are familiar with as they gain confidence on their analysis skills by knowing they are the first ones to explore this data. Last, development of this material continues strengthening the ties between different institutions.