15th Symposium on Education


Serving diverse urban undergraduate students with AMS online earth science courses

Steve LaDochy, California State Univ., Los Angeles, CA; and P. Ramirez

California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), a large inner-city commuter campus located in East Los Angeles, serves a student body consisting of about 52% Latino, 22% Asian, 9% African American, and 16% white. Women comprise 61% of the student population. Students average 28 years old, are mostly married and fully employed, and are largely community college transfers seeking improved job prospects. University general education requirements include completion of a science course with a laboratory component such as meteorology and oceanography. We plan to introduce the AMS Online Weather course during the 2005-06 academic year and the Online Oceans course in 2006-2007. Campus websites will host the online lecture portion of the two courses. However, the laboratory portions of these courses will meet on campus. This arrangement provides important in-person interactions with students.

Online Weather. Presently, the Department of Geography & Urban Analysis offers a traditional meteorology course (3-hr lecture and 3-hr laboratory). Students are mostly non-major, with limited science backgrounds. Often scheduling a 5-hr block is difficult. The online course should help alleviate scheduling conflicts. The lecture portion of this course will use the AMS text materials and Internet activities and resources, while the laboratory will augment these with weekly experiments, field activities and a visit to the National Weather Service forecast office.

Online Oceans. Typically, the Department of Geological Sciences offers multiple sections of an oceanography course with laboratory that enrolls approximately 500 students annually. This course helps maintain our geology program which serves a modest number of geology majors. The Department seeks to possibly increase enrollments, alleviate room scheduling problems, and to meet the needs of working students through the implementation of the AMS online oceanography course. Laboratory activities include hands-on experiences in collecting and interpreting chemical, biological and geologic data compiled during an ocean cruise.

Unique problems in implementation. CSULA operates under a 10-week quarter system, beginning in late September. The quarter system presents a challenge in linking the real-time features of the AMS online courses, which begin prior to the start of our academic year, with our unique schedule. We plan to use archived files that are closest to real-time as possible. Also, converting the 12-week AMS courses to 10-week courses would require selective paring of AMS course material or compression of courses to fit the quarter schedule resulting in faster paced classes.

Our poster presentation features the Internet homepages for the two proposed online courses, along with some of the additional laboratory resources that we have developed for our earth science courses and photos from field activities.

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Poster Session 1, Educational Initiatives
Sunday, 29 January 2006, 5:30 PM-7:00 PM, Exhibit Hall A2

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