AMS Climate Studies Course Implementation at Chabot College

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Monday, 3 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Donald L. Plondke, Chabot College, Hayward, CA

Handout (22.7 MB)

Chabot College in Hayward, CA is a participant in the AMS Climate Diversity Project and serves a highly diverse urban student population made up of approximately 32% Latinos, 16% Asian-Americans, and 15% African-Americans. Over the last 7 academic years, the Geography curriculum has included a regular spring semester offering of the course “Introduction to Weather and Climate” (Chabot's Geography 8), the content of which always emphasizes global environmental change issues. The instructor, Don Plondke, attended the May, 2013 Climate Diversity workshop and realized that the AMS Climate Studies course appears ideally suited for imbedding into the Chabot class. On an experimental basis, the Climate Studies course components promise to enhance the educational experience for Chabot students being introduced to climate science by familiarizing them with state-of-the-art technologies for collecting and analyzing environmental data. The course structure and its alignment with a wealth of online resources will expose students to several of the astonishing new technologies emerging in satellite remote sensing, graphical animation, visualization, and global climate modeling.

The Geography 8 course has full integration of AMS Climate Studies textbook, the Investigations Manual, and accompanying online resources, and follows the 12-week schedule designed for flexibility and access to recently collected climate data. In this spring semester of 2014 at Chabot, the AMS Climate Studies implementation is viewed as a pilot course delivery experiment that provides an intensely interactive introduction to atmospheric science for community college students. The course at Chabot is classroom-centered, not a hybrid or distance education model. However, individual and student group interactive assignments utilizing online resources are the core learning activities. Implementation of this class has drawn the attention of our faculty and counselors who oversee degree programs beyond just Geography. Following this semester's experience, analysis of measureable learning outcomes, and review of student course evaluations, Instructor Don Plondke hopes to propose permanent implementation of the course, with cross-disciplinary faculty support for inclusion in the Environmental Studies A.A., Geography A.A., and General Studies degree programs. A cross-listed course with semester-to-semester flexibility in content may be most appropriate in the long-run, such that across several academic years the course can readjust in accordance with the most current pertinent issues emerging from the AMS Climate Diversity project.

As a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), Chabot's implementation of the AMS Climate Studies course includes gradual development on our Blackboard website of external links to Spanish language online resources that address current climate change issues in narrative and interactive graphic formats. The students themselves are the sources for discovery of websites useful to Spanish-speaking students, and new sites can stimulate online discussion forums by student groups. Individual students can elect to use a non-English language pack within the course Blackboard website to access most of the learning resources links in their first or preferred alternative language. External URL links accessible from the course website focus on climate change and environmental quality issues in regions of Spanish-speaking America.

The class meets for 1 hour and 15 minutes twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Each week, during the Tuesday classroom session, students open the week's main topic with a discussion of the resource Weekly Climate News that is delivered by AMS online each Monday. Also at the beginning of the week, the Current Climate Studies resource is connected to that week's topical content in order to enable students to do the learning investigations that apply concepts using current or recent climatic data. The AMS Climate Science course website is accessed from Geography 8's Blackboard Learn TM 2012 version 9.1 website, with direct links to websites assigned or recommended in the Climate Science Investigations Manual. The Investigations Manual is used as the primary resource guiding students through the learning process and building upon their analytical skills.

From the “Assignments” link in our course Blackboard website, students are guided week-to-week to additional assignments, bulletins about current weather watches and warnings, “hot” links to updates and news from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, and recommended National Weather Service webpages. Students seem to engage with each other excitedly through discovery of such links as NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS). Using the SVS, the student can launch and/or download excellent 3-D animations to illustrate climate change observations, biogeochemical cycles, and ocean-earth-atmosphere interactions.

Our first semester's experience with the AMS Climate Studies course implementation is barely a month old at the time of the 2014 AMS Annual Meeting. As the semester progresses, selected student groups will join the instructor in participating in the monthly webinars of the NOAA Climate Stewards program. During the last 2 weeks of the course, in May 2014, the instructor, students, and other interested faculty will engage in a forum discussion of the course implementation experience, with expectations for cooperative development of an action plan for institutional establishment of the course within the college's curricula.