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The materials in this course were developed through an NSF grant designed to improve how students learn about and interact with polar regions. The intent was to create materials to help students engage with polar data and researchers and learn more about how polar science issues affect people and animals
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Initial Publication Date: May 19, 2020


Students will generate several sets of R code, graphs, and written letters-to-the-editor throughout the course. All of these, along with student in-class responses to discussion questions, can be assessed to check students' understanding of course content.

This class includes short (1 – 3 question) quizzes (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 4.8MB Jan8 20) as formative assessments that can be included to help check student understanding and to encourage students to stay engaged with course content. These quizzes cover material from the textbook, lectures, and news articles; however, they can be modified if the instructor does not want to require the textbook, does not want to lecture, or uses different news articles. The purpose of these short quizzes is not to critically test students, but to have a low impact on their overall course grade while still encouraging them to keep up with course materials. These quizzes can be given through a learning management system (LMS), printed and handed out in class, or given as clicker questions that students can respond to. If the quizzes are to be used, they are best given for a few minutes at the start of class. By including these short quizzes in the course, student comprehension can be checked as the course progresses, allowing the instructor to review information that students particularly struggle with.

Each module has a handout with discussion questions that can serve as a formative assessment of student learning as the module progresses.

Students write a letter to the editor in response to the media article, which can serve as a formative or summative assessment of both narrative and technical challenges using a rubric (Acrobat (PDF) 289kB Jan8 20).

Beyond this, administering a pre- and post-test (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 1.7MB Jan8 20) in the first and final class periods, respectively, provides a check of how understanding of key concepts has improved over the course. This creates a measure of student improvement, as well as assessment of how the teaching pedagogies employed in this course fair against more traditional teaching methods. Additionally, the pre-test provides a good baseline for what students know coming in to the course.

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