15th Symposium on Education


Enhancing diversity in the geosciences through national dissemination of AMS Online Weather Studies and Online Ocean Studies at minority serving institutions

Ira W. Geer, AMS, Washington, DC; and E. W. Mills, J. M. Moran, R. S. Weinbeck, W. A. Porter, J. L. Harris, J. A. Brey, and W. R. Foniri

The American Meteorological Society's introductory undergraduate Online Weather Studies and Online Ocean Studies courses have brought innovative geosciences education to more than 300 colleges and universities nationwide, including over 100 minority serving institutions (MSIs). As detailed in Increasing Diversity in the Earth Sciences (Journal of Geoscience Education, 2004) and Land of Plenty: Diversity as America's Competitive Edge in Science, Engineering and Technology (Report of the Congressional Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering and Technology Development, 2000), it is imperative to boost minority participation in the sciences in order to maintain a robust and competitive scientific workforce. The AMS Online courses are excellent vehicles to introduce minority undergraduates to the geosciences, and encourage future study and careers. AMS facilitates course implementation at MSIs through support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences and Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement National Dissemination programs.

The Online courses are developed by AMS and licensed by colleges for local offering and credit. The hallmark of the Online courses is the incorporation of current environmental data and investigations delivered via Internet. Course components include a customized textbook, investigations manual containing the first halves of twice-weekly learning investigations, and course website offering the near real-time completion component of each investigation and links to current geoscience data. Course instructors also receive access to a faculty website containing answer keys and a faculty CD with various instructional materials, including test bank questions. The Online course packages provide the flexibility of offering the classes in both traditional lecture/laboratory-based and totally online instructional settings. The turnkey design allows the courses to be offered by experienced meteorologists and oceanographers, as well as by those in other scientific fields, such as geography or chemistry.

Faculty introducing the courses at MSIs are invited to attend week-long NSF-supported workshops that cover course implementation procedures and key course topics. The workshops employ many guest speakers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and university geoscience departments and introduce faculty to operational activities. Instructors are also invited to a diversity workshop at the subsequent AMS Annual Meeting and present posters detailing their course implementation experiences. In order to provide further geoscience opportunities for interested students, faculty are connected with local NOAA offices and AMS provides student resources websites with career and internship information.

AMS Online courses deliver highly motivational learning experiences that encourage additional student exploration of the geosciences. The turnkey course design and faculty enhancement workshops make possible geosciences course introduction at MSIs and other colleges nationwide.

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Session 3, University and Professional Education
Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 8:30 AM-12:15 PM, A402

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