InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Earth's Thermostat > Instructor Stories > Robert MacKay
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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 materials are free 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.
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Robert MacKay: Using Earth's Thermostat in Meteorology 101: The Atmosphere and the Environment at Clark College


About this Course

This course is an introductory meteorology course for non-science majors.

40
students

1 2-hr session
face-to-face each week Course Syllabus (Microsoft Word 76kB Jun22 16)

A Success Story in Building Student Engagement

The Earth's Thermostat module engaged my introductory meteorology students in actively learning about energy flows and balances within the Earth system. Our module units help my student learn by analyzing data using the methods of geoscience. Systems thinking in relation to Earth's energy balance climate and society is also a central theme of our module.

I strongly recommend trying some or all of the Earth Thermostat units with your students to see how much they enjoy this interactive learning environment.

My Experience Teaching with InTeGrateMaterials

I was able to easily use the materials without modification. However, during the first phase of the pilot I had to omit some aspects of each activity because of time constraints. Knowing this has inspired our team to streamline our module to better fit the time available in a standard 50 minute period.

Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course

My course is a 10 week course and the module fit very well into the existing course structure. Units 1 and 2 were used in week 2 and 3, Unit 3 used in week 4, Units 4 and 5 in week 6, and Unit 6 in week 9. In a future class, I will likely introduce Unit 3 earlier to allow for more continued reference to systems thinking ideas throughout the remainder of the course. The material presented in Units 1 and 2 was important in my course for understanding both weather and climate, so was used throughout the course. Students are encouraged to use a systems thinking approach after being introduced to these ideas in Unit 3. Unit 3 also set the stage for the climatic effects of volcanoes which was essential for the capstone project of Unit 6. Units 4 and 5 provided a three dimensional perspective to Earth's climate system which was helpful in discussing climate change issues towards the end of the course.

Assessments

My students worked through the student handouts for all in class activities in our module and take home questions. We've tried to make sure that time required for take-home questions is not too large. This allows individual instructors flexibility to add additional homework questions if they wish. Students seemed to enjoy researching volcanoes (take home for unit 3) and sharing their results in class during Unit 6. We have added more cues to our module capstone assignment to help students better meet the assignment objectives.

Outcomes

Overall I wanted my students to gain insights into how the climate system works and its relationship to society, by actively analyzing data using scientific methods. My impression is that my students were successful at completing the activities in our module,and that this success did indeed help them gain insights into the complex relationship between humans and Earth's climate system.

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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 »