Cindy Shellito: Adapting Climate of Change for a Large Lecture Course at the University of Northern Colorado
About this Course
An an introductory survey course in meteorology and climatology.
Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 180kB Aug29 13)
A Success Story in Building Student Engagement
How often does a lecture hall full of students in an introductory science class buzz with energy? In my nearly 10 years of teaching introductory meteorology, I can say it has been rare. The activities in the Climate of Change module had students in my introductory-level General Meteorology class up and out of their seats, looking at and discussing the same data that scientists use to understand climate variability and climate change. This module prompts students to consider the broad-ranging societal impacts of climate change in the past, present, and future, and that engages them in science.
My Experience Teaching with InTeGrate MaterialsUsing the Climate of Change module in a lecture hall forced me to think about how to use my classroom space in new ways. It allowed me to find ways to better align my teaching in a lecture hall with the things that I value most in teaching and learning science: engagement, inquiry, and problem solving.
Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course
The module was implemented during the 11th and 12th weeks of the semester. Students were accustomed to a lecture format during the 50-minute class period, interspersed with occasional short in-class activities or discussion. Starting about a week prior to the beginning of the module, students were told in class and in lab that the format of the class period would be changing for a couple of weeks, and to be prepared to participate. I used supplemental materials for each unit in the lab section of the class.
I used three assessment questions, listed under Embedded Assessment questions on the Assessment page for the Climate of Change module. These questions seemed particularly effective at helping me determine how well students had processed the new materials and ideas from this module.
My hope in implementing the Climate of Change module was that students would become engaged in the topic, become active learners in the classroom, and more easily understand the complex interactions that occur as a part of climate variability and climate change. Students commented favorably at the end of the semester about the opportunity to move around the class and discuss ideas in a large lecture hall. While I did not have a control group to compare this class with, responses on exam questions from students who were present for the activities in the module suggest that it accomplished what I had hoped for.