Phillip G. Resor: Using Earth's Thermostat in Dynamic Earth at Wesleyan University
About this CourseAn introductory general education course for non-majors that also serves as one of 4 gateways to the major.
Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 258kB Sep12 16)
A Climate System Introduction for Geology Students
My course is an introductory physical geology course that blends hands-on activities that might bet traditionally covered in a separate lab with lecture. I believe that an understanding of the climate system is important for my students in order to understand surface processes, and global change. The interactive and hands-on nature of the module led students to develop a clear understanding of Earth's radiation balance and the importance of the atmosphere in maintaining this balance. Students successfully applied this knowledge later in the semester when discussing temporal and spatial patterns of weathering and sedimentary environments. The use of volcanic forcing in the module's capstone was a nice connection to solid earth topics covered earlier in my course.
My Experience Teaching with InTeGrateMaterialsI used the materials as written, but due to the structure of my course meeting times I decided to teach the units focused on the radiation balance (1 and 4) in the first 3 hour class period and then moved on to the atmospheric focused units (2, 3, 5, and 6) in the second week.
Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course
My course is 13 weeks long and the module was taught in weeks 5 and 6. This module served as a bridge between solid Earth topics covered in the first 4 weeks and surface process topics covered in weeks 7-10. Module material was referenced in discussions of weathering and soil development in the week following the module and in discussions of global change in the last 3 weeks of the course.
AssessmentsI collected and graded the student assignments for the radiation jigsaw and optional atmospheric circulation jigsaw as well as the volcano take-home and capstone assignment. Students also completed a number of in-class and take home assignments that were not graded (self or formative assessments). The students expressed anxiety about the number of assignments and a lack of clarity in the instructions for the assignments. We are addressing both of these problems in our revisions.
I hoped that by using this module in my course that students would have a clearer understanding of the basic workings of the climate system and how it responds to a variety of forcings, including increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration associated with fossil fuel burning. Based on our discussions of global change later in the semester as well as performance on exam questions I would say that the module was a success.