Bring Your Major to Class and Other Methods to Enhance Learning in a General Education Course

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Monday, 3 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Daphne LaDue, CAPS/Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

Handout (1.0 MB)

The general education course Severe & Unusual Weather at the University of Oklahoma is advertised to cover nine topics, including climate change. Teaching the topic of climate change provided opportunity to reiterate key aspects of the scientific process, including the role of skepticism in science and a common misperception that science is about proving things. The subject was introduced with several segments of Earth: The Operator's Manual. Students in this large class section (60-80 students) then reported out team teaching topics on the basics of climate: natural drivers of Earth's climate, anthropogenic drivers Earth's climate, and how past climate is estimated. Other teams were assigned to topics around this contentious issue: the psychology of risk, history of media coverage, and the history of industry involvement in public perceptions. Team assignments were made to complement their majors or career interests when possible, so that, for example, psychology majors researched the psychology of risk, journalism majors researched the history of media coverage, and public relations majors researched industry-sponsored campaigns. Students were encouraged to be skeptical, think critically, and ask hard questions. A special course evaluation tool indicated this to be a successful approach.