Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 9:15 AM


LYNDS, Susan1, LINDSTROM, Scott S.2, LAZZARA, Matthew A.2 and HARKEY, Monica K.2, (1)Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, CO, Boulder, CO 80309-0449, (2)Department of Physical Sciences, Madison Area Technical College, 1701 Wright Street, Madison, WI 53704,

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Innovations in Climate Education (NICE) program has funded projects that aim to increase climate literacy among certain populations, including two-year community colleges. One of these projects is the Climate and Climate Change class taught at Madison Area Technnical College. This 15-week Department of Physical Sciences course is taught in two formats--a completely online class and a mostly online ‘hybrid’ class that has one face-to-face meeting per week. The class has no prerequisites, so no previous knowledge base for climate topics is assumed. Therefore, the curriculum promotes a basic understanding and appreciation of the complexity of climate on Earth as well as specifics on climate change. The course has been offered twice so far—during the spring semesters of 2012 and 2013.

An online content knowledge assessment survey was developed by the instructors and the project evaluator. It was administered before and after the course to evaluate student learning using paired pre/post data. In 2013, the instrument was enhanced to include definition questions for the “terms that have different meanings for scientists and the public” as listed by R. C. Somerville in Physics Today (vol. 64, no. 10, pp 48-53).

The evaluator analyzed the pre-course data each semester and reported the results to the instructors so that they could identify misconceptions among the students. This allowed the instructors to customize the course materials for each semester’s participants. Analysis of the paired pre/post student scores on the assessment has shown that in both years the students improve their content knowledge (and decrease their misconceptions) at a statistically significant level.

In this presentation, we will review the instrument used to determine students’ misconceptions and summarize the data analyses.