85th AMS Annual Meeting

Tuesday, 11 January 2005: 11:45 AM
Attempting to improve communications skills: A senior capstone seminar course in meteorology
David R. Smith, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD; and T. D. Sikora, B. B. Yoakum, and R. M. Kyhos
Poster PDF (27.5 kB)
A common criticism by employers is the need for better communications skills, both written and oral. While most quality undergraduate programs in the atmospheric and related sciences prepare their students well in the technical aspects of their discipline, sometimes they neglect to develop the ability of their students to communicate their technical knowledge to others. The justification for this omission is that the curriculum is already too full or it should be the responsibility of the Humanities faculty to cultivate such skills. Unfortunately, this attitude removes the individuals with the technical expertise from the process and sends the message to the students that the communication of the scientific knowledge is less important.

In order to promote better research and communications skills of its majors, the Oceanography Department at the United States Naval Academy has a public speaking and scientific writing continuum within its Oceanography and Meteorology-based curriculum. Each course in the major curriculum has a requirement for either oral or written presentation about a topic in that particular course. This process culminates in a Senior Capstone Seminar Course.

The objective of the Senior Capstone Course is for students to write a senior thesis on a topic that builds upon the complete coursework in the major. Further, each student prepares a 25-minute oral presentation describing the salient points of their research. There are four versions of the Senior Capstone Seminar Course (Physical Oceanography, Biological Oceanography, Geographical Information Systems, and Meteorology). This paper will focus on the systematic assessment of the Meteorology Capstone Course. The data presented were compiled from several assessment tools aimed at evaluating the course's effectiveness from a student's perspective.

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