Paper No. 336-9
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM
USING AUTHENTIC CLIMATE DATA PROXIES TO INCREASE STUDENT ENGAGEMENT AND OVERALL SUCCESS RATES IN EARTH SCIENCE COURSES DESIGNED FOR NON-MAJORS
Most Earth Science courses geared towards non-majors operate under a rote-style method of learning, requiring students to take notes from lectures and slides provided by the instructor(s). Recent studies indicate active learning and a studio-based teaching approach leads to a decrease in the failure rate and an increase in the use of higher-level cognitive skills among participating students. Inspired by professional development experiences at the NSF-Funded, Minority Serving Institutions – Reconstructing Earth’s Climate History (MSI-REaCH) workshop that took place at the Gulf Coast Repository at Texas A&M during the Summer of 2016, new curricula were added to several historically lecture-based introductory Earth Science courses at San Jose State University to provide a much more intimate and inquiry-based introduction to the topic of paleoclimate. Working together, students learn how to access and study high-quality images of sediment cores, collections of fossil micro-organisms, and 18O data from benthic foraminifera in order to study two major climate events; the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction, and the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Through the inclusion of these robust data sets in classroom activities, students are able to better comprehend how scientists reconstruct climate history in great detail, what their findings are, and how these findings can be compared to other proxies such as ice core data and the fossil record. In addition, these data make it possible for students to determine rates of sedimentation and climate change, allowing them to assess traditionally-held views about the age of the Earth. Data sets derived specifically from ODP (Oceanic Drilling Program) sediment core expeditions (e.g. JOIDES) and incorporated into inquiry-based assignments have already resulted in an increase in student engagement and understanding of Earth’s climate history and how it’s measured. Furthermore, students are able to demonstrate their abilities to collaborate with others to organize and interpret data, and synthesize for themselves hypotheses and theories concerning these important events in Earth’s history.