Cara Thompson: Using Ocean Sustainability in Physical Oceanography at Santa Monica College
About this CourseAn introductory course for non-majors.
Physical Oceanography Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 111kB Aug5 16)
A Success Story in Building Student Engagement
I implemented the Ocean Sustainability Module in my introductory physical oceanography course at a two-year junior college (Santa Monica College). Many of our students struggle in science courses. It was great to see those students grasp concepts through the hands-on, student-lead learning provided in this module.
My Experience Teaching with InTeGrateMaterialsI implemented the module as intended as a capstone to the course.
Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course
My course was 16 weeks long — the module was implemented at the end of the course (last three weeks). Students were introduced to the formation of the planet, plate tectonics, marine provinces, sediments, water and seawater, wind-driven currents, density-driven circulation, waves, tides, and coastal geology before starting the module.
AssessmentsI provided a concept map as a group exercise during the final exam. I believe as an individual exercise it would have been too difficult. As a group exercise it initiated a lot of thoughtful conversation, and students did relatively well on it. That said, we changed the summative assessment to a more purposeful assignment (an educational brochure for the public) that I think will be more effective.
Our primary vision was to increase student-led learning and have them understand their role in ocean sustainability. Although many students at Santa Monica College already tend to be relatively sustainably-minded, this module was able to teach them the science behind these sustainability themes. Students did well — many commented on how they did not realize the carbon that they were emitting affects the ocean in multi-faceted ways. They stated that before the module, their impression of ocean sustainability was limited to pollution (e.g., plastics) and/or overfishing.