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Dawn Kopacz
,
Lindsay C. Maudlin
,
Wendilyn J. Flynn
,
Zachary J. Handlos
,
Adam Hirsch
, and
Swarndeep Gill

Abstract

Increasing participation in education research and encouraging the use of evidence-based practices in the classroom has been identified as a Grand Challenge in the Geosciences. As a first step in addressing this Grand Challenge, a survey was developed and disseminated to a broad range of atmospheric science professionals to collect data about 1) the number of community members involved in atmospheric science education research (ASER); 2) whether ASER is valued within the community, and if so, to what extent; 3) potential barriers to involvement in ASER; and 4) the resources necessary to encourage involvement in ASER. Survey results revealed that while many in the atmospheric science community highly value education research, barriers to greater involvement include a perceived lack of value and a lack of visibility of ASER. Recommendations are made for addressing these barriers.

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Markus Petters

Abstract

Student-centered active learning pedagogies improve learning outcomes and increase the engagement of underrepresented groups. Implementing such pedagogies requires interactive tools for students to manipulate inputs and use the outputs to construct knowledge. This work introduces interactive worksheets for teaching about atmospheric aerosol and cloud physics and describes the toolchain to create and deliver the content. The material is appropriate for upper-level undergraduate and graduate instruction with pedagogy based on process-oriented guided inquiry learning. Students playfully interact with physical relationships and atmospheric models. Two examples are the interaction with an aerosol–cloud parcel model for simulating the early stage of cloud formation and the interaction with the Bowen model for simulating the formation of rain by coalescence. Photos, text, figures, and software associated with the project are free to be shared and free to be adapted. In addition to focusing on discipline-based learning objectives, the worksheets emphasize interacting with real-world data and practicing graph comprehension. Hosting the content in the cloud ensures reliable and scalable delivery to any device with a browser and Internet access. The worksheets are designed to be used in a student-centered active learning classroom but can also be used in an online setting.

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Casey E. Davenport

Abstract

Atmospheric dynamics can represent a significant hurdle for students; the need to successfully apply concepts from calculus and physics, as well as the sometimes counterintuitive nature of fluid flow, combine to produce frustration and suboptimal learning. Additionally, there is often an emphasis on equation derivations and theory, rather than real-world applications. A new approach for teaching atmospheric dynamics, known as worked examples, is discussed herein. This pedagogy resolves identified challenges in a few ways: 1) reducing the cognitive load of students by explicitly demonstrating (via an expert-constructed guide) how mathematics and physics are applied to the atmosphere; 2) utilizing (as much as appropriate) real-world scenarios to demonstrate how equations explain what we observe; and 3) providing opportunities for students to critically examine the scenario, the relevant math and physics, and the underlying theory via a series of self-explanation prompts throughout the example. This study provides detailed information on the creation and implementation of worked examples in the two-semester atmospheric dynamics course sequence at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Comparisons in performance between students who took the course as a traditional lecture and derivation-based course and those who were subject to the worked examples pedagogy identify significant improvements with the new approach, especially for first-semester dynamics. Students also express deep satisfaction with the hands-on, application-based pedagogy.

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Peggy McNeal
,
Heather Petcovic
,
Teresa Bals-Elsholz
, and
Todd Ellis

Abstract

Disembedding, or recognizing patterns in a distracting background, is a spatial thinking skill that is particularly relevant to the interpretation of meteorological surface and upper-air maps. Difficulty “seeing” patterns such as cyclonic flow, thermal ridges, or pressure gradients can make weather analysis challenging for students. In this qualitative case study, we characterize how three undergraduate meteorology students with varying disembedding skill complete a series of meteorological tasks. Videos and transcribed verbal data collected during the task, as well as participant products, were analyzed for instances of disembedding and rule-based reasoning. Results demonstrate that the student with greater disembedding skill relied on observing patterns embedded in meteorological maps in conjunction with rule-based reasoning, whereas the two students with lower disembedding skill preferred generalized application of rules. These results can aid meteorology instructors in recognizing students who struggle with disembedding data and patterns and inform the development of instructional interventions in undergraduate meteorology classrooms.

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Brian Billings
,
Stephen A. Cohn
,
Rodney J. Kubesh
, and
William O. J. Brown

Abstract

The best way to train the next wave of observational talent is through direct experience. In 2012 and again in 2014, students at St. Cloud State University (SCSU) welcomed deployments of professional atmospheric research equipment, allowing them to support and execute field projects. The Boundary Structure Experiments with Central Minnesota Profiling (BaSE CaMP) projects brought the Mobile Integrated Sounding System (MISS) from the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s (NCAR) Earth Observing Laboratory (EOL) to SCSU for a National Science Foundation–funded educational deployment. Its diverse instrumentation and ability to travel to interesting weather events and locations makes MISS extremely valuable for teaching students about both weather experiments and measurement strategies. In addition to the university project, outreach activities with MISS took place at high schools, regional conferences, and public events. MISS carries four instruments: a boundary layer wind profiler, a radio acoustic sounding system (RASS), radiosondes, and an instrumented 10-m tower. The type and time of MISS deployments were quite varied so students could participate around their class schedule, jobs, and other commitments. Each year the project had periods of fixed operations and mobile activity, where MISS was relocated to best observe current weather conditions. BaSE CaMP operations and results were incorporated into many classes in the meteorology program at SCSU. The original course request was for Radar and Satellite Meteorology, but other activities contributed to Atmospheric Dynamics, Physical Meteorology, and Meteorological Analysis Software courses.

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