InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Critical Zone Science > Instructor Stories > Adam Wymore
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Adam Wymore: Introduction to Critical Zone Science at University of New Hampshire-Main Campus


About this Course

This course was offered as an elective to upper-division Environmental Science majors at the University of New Hampshire.

8
students

2 - 75 minute classes
each week



This course was taught as a Special Topics course which is defined as: An experimental course for the purpose of introducing a new course or teaching a special topic for a semester in an area of specialization in natural resources.

A Success Story in Building Student Engagement

This course was taught as an upper-division elective to Environmental Science Majors at the University of New Hampshire. The student body reflected a mix of students specializing in Ecosystem Ecology, Soils, and Hydrology. This diversity, as well as my training as a biologist made for an rich combination of perspectives on Critical Zone Science. At the end of course, students really appreciated the holistic approach to environmental and earth system science.

"This course was a great opportunity to get a holistic perspective on environmental issues and to understand how systems are linked. This course provided an interesting and different view of environmental science by incorporating many different aspects and showing how they're related."
– Bri (Senior at UNH)

My Experience Teaching with InTeGrate Materials

I made very few modifications to the original course except for some readings that I thought would appeal to this particular group of students.

Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course

My course focused completely on Critical Zone Science and incorporated the vast majority of the Integrate Course. My course was a semester long course and we met twice weekly for 75 minutes. I hope to continue to teach this course (and possibly some other iterations of it) in the future. I am particularly interested in developing a lab portion of the course and a possibly a summer field experience based on this course.

Generally, I followed the assessments and assessments outlined in the online curriculum. However, I encourage future instructors to take advantage of the diversity of assignments and resources to tailor the course to their interests as well that of the students. Students really enjoyed working with the real CZ data and it was clear that their data analysis skills improved through the term due to the frequency of data used and explored. Because of the number of assignments (in exchange for no exams) a clear and frequently update assignment list should be provided.

Assessments

I think the students really benefited from the data analysis based assignments in the course. In this smaller section I was easily able to identify was aspects of the data analysis (e.g. statistics, graphing, interpretation) the students were struggling with. The students also really appreciated the freedom to select their own research topics at the end but required a good deal of guidance on asking a focused research question. I think the new summative assessment regarding a research proposal will be highly beneficial.

Outcomes

I really wanted the students to appreciate how nothing in the biosphere exists in a vacuum. To understand how the biosphere (or Critical Zone) supports life we must take a systems approach to understand interactions over space and time. I think the students left the course with a greater appreciation of this complexity, but, were also inspired by the fact the CZ science is really working hard to connect the science to real issues facing humanity and society.

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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »