After the 2005 hurricane season, several meteorology students at Texas A&M University became interested in understanding Hurricane Rita's forecasts and societal impacts in greater depth. In response to the students' interest, we developed a collaborative student research study at Texas A&M University associated with an undergraduate course in the spring semester of 2006. The study included both a meteorological and an interdisciplinary component, in which students performed an in-person survey of Texas Gulf Coast residents. Students were involved in multiple phases of the research, from the design to implementation to dissemination of results. This collaborative research model engaged and motivated the students, providing substantial educational benefits. The study and class linked the students' classroom knowledge to reality while generating new knowledge about the societal aspects of Hurricane Rita and other hurricanes. This paper reviews key aspects of the study and class, presenting a prototype integrated research-education model for others interested in incorporating active learning, collaborative inquiry, and interdisciplinary study into undergraduate classrooms. The model can be implemented at both colleges and research universities for a variety of topics of interest to students, teachers, the research community, and society.
National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado
Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
*The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation