The Fundamentals in Meteorology Inventory: Motivation and Development of a New Meteorology Education Tool

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 4:15 PM
125AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Casey E. Davenport, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC; and A. J. French, T. L. Koehler, and D. R. Vollmer
Manuscript (438.1 kB)

Education research has shown that there is often a disconnect between what instructors teach and what students actually comprehend. Much of this disconnect stems from students' previous conceptions of the subject that often remain steadfast despite instruction. The field of meteorology is particularly susceptible to misconceptions due to the years of personal experience students have with weather before instruction. Consequently, it is often challenging for students to accurately integrate course material with their observations and personal explanations. A longitudinal assessment exam of the meteorology program at the U.S. Air Force Academy revealed that misconceptions of fundamental, introductory content can propagate through years of instruction, potentially impeding deeper understanding of advanced topics. Thus, it is clear that such misconceptions must be identified and corrected early on. Given the high-profile nature of topics such as global climate change and high-impact weather events such as droughts, floods, and tornadoes, working to correct misconceptions and improve student understanding is a worthwhile goal. Numerous other scientific disciplines have successfully worked towards this same goal utilizing a multiple-choice concept inventory, a tool that the field of meteorology currently lacks. This presentation will describe the development of the Fundamentals in Meteorology Inventory (FMI), a multiple-choice assessment exam designed to identify the common misconceptions of fundamental topics covered in introductory meteorology courses. Applications of the exam for the meteorology community will be discussed, including identifying common meteorology misconceptions, assessing student understanding, measuring teaching effectiveness, and diagnosing areas for improvement in introductory meteorology courses. Finally, results of initial testing of the FMI at two different institutions will be shown, along with future plans to continue developing and validating the exam.