Bringing authentic science practice to the undergraduate classroom
To prepare atmospheric scientists better for these important roles, a new atmospheric science laboratory for sophomores, emphasizing research methods, the nature of science, and improved communication of research results, has been developed at Purdue University. The new laboratory is based upon the very successful model developed by the chemistry community within the Center for Authentic Science Practice in Education (CASPiE) initiated at Purdue University. In the CASPiE model, the students' laboratory experiments are a component of a larger research project conducted by a faculty member. Students are engaged in experimental design and hypothesis testing within the scope of the larger research question, and thus gain experience with the authentic process of science, as well as fundamental atmospheric science skills. In turn, the data that the students collect are intended to be used as part of the faculty member's work and, if possible, contribute to publishable research. An adaption of the CASPiE model to atmospheric science, first used in the Fall semester of 2009, will be presented as a paradigm that could be applied within or across other atmospheric science programs. Future work, including assessments of the improvement of students' understanding of scientific research and its methods, and of any improvement in their ability to communicate science, will also be presented.