Can we know the presence of Global Warming via the Scientific Method

This page is authored by Tom Burke, Whatcom Community College, based on an original activity by Tom Burke at Whatcom Community Collge
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Initial Publication Date: May 31, 2016 | Reviewed: November 25, 2019


In this activity the student in Research will be asked to research if we can know the existence of Global Warming using the Scientific Method. The student has had assignments that covered different methods of learning: modeling, untested opinions, authorities, case studies, and now the Scientific Method. To learn both the Scientific Method as well as the data which supports Global Warming, the student will gather secondary research using Scholarly Journals. Students are free to explore the theme as they wish, the only requirement is that the Scholarly Journals provide scientific studies. From that, they can form their own conclusions. Students will gather a minimum of four Scholarly Journals, write summaries for each article which will include the given Hypothesis, their findings, and the methodology of their research.

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Learning Goals

The main goal of the assignment is to have student learn the value of the Scientific Method. They will demonstrate they have learned data analysis using statistics. The secondary goal will be to expose the student to the science behind the talk concerning Global Warming.

Context for Use

The context of this assignment is a Research class at a Community College. Prior to this assignment, the student will have learned the different thinking styles and different report types. The student will have been exposed to different statistical methods for analyzing data. The assignment would span one week to gather the articles and summarize them.

Description and Teaching Materials

To do this assignment, the student needs only to have access to a quality data base of scholarly journals. This is assumed to be available at all colleges and universities.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Quite often at the Community College level students have had no experience to using Scholarly Journals for their research. They generally know Wikipedia and Google searches. They will know how to copy a URL for their References but not how to cite an article. Support, in advance, for APA format and citations will be helpful. I have the class discuss the sections of each journal article and they find the common headings and the order which they are placed. It helps to have discussions about these.


The assessment is by means of the summaries, in proper APA format with APA citations of the articles, without any reference to the internet. I grade on a basis that includes:
1: Finding the four articles - 4 points
2: Summarizing the four articles - 4 points
3: Proper APA format of citations - 4 points
4: A separate page evidencing what they can know from the studies. In particular, I look for the match between what they know and what the Scholarly Journals purport to find.

References and Resources

The library at our college is what my students have. The library provides some tutorials on how to search the scholarly journals. At the end of those tutorials there is a short quiz. By registering the tutorials as an assignment at the very start of the course, the library sends to the professor the results of that quiz. By taking the tutorials as the first assignment in the course, I can be sure the students have the elementary skills for searching the scholarly journals.