NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
PDF on ERIC Download full text
ERIC Number: EJ1163918
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Nov
Pages: 9
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1089-9995
Using Rich Context and Data Exploration to Improve Engagement with Climate Data and Data Literacy: Bringing a Field Station into the College Classroom
Ellwein, Amy L.; Hartley, Laurel M.; Donovan, Sam; Billick, Ian
Journal of Geoscience Education, v62 n4 p578-586 Nov 2014
Authentic scientific data, when richly contextualized, can provide the basis for compelling learning experiences. Many undergraduate students either do not have access to primary data, or if they do, the data are so abstract that student engagement is limited. Here, we describe contextual information and data-rich, student-centered activities we developed to give life to data sets from an intensely studied place, the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL). The project Web site, Digital RMBL, highlights charismatic organisms, scientists, and long-term data sets as a tool for engaging students who are unable to physically visit a field station. The "Biology of Climate Change" module, the focus of this paper, has been tested in college-level classrooms by 10 collaborating faculty and 243 undergraduate students at a variety of colleges and universities across the nation. Authentic long-term data sets, primary literature, data visualizations, and a flexible format suitable for laboratory sections have led to very high usability ratings by collaborating faculty. In student surveys, a surprising number of undergraduate science majors (20%-30%) report that they have never worked with authentic scientific data--even at major research universities. The percentage of students who have not worked with data is much higher at collaborating 2 y institutions (60%-80%). The majority of students report that they appreciate the opportunity to explore long-term climate science data sets despite the frustrations they experience with the ''messiness'' of authentic scientific data. The impact of this climate change activity is achieved through "engagement" with people, place, and research subjects, followed by student-centered data "exploration" that builds personal interest and scientific discovery skills. This paper outlines one model in which scientists can meet funding agency requirements to share data publicly while providing excellent opportunities for improving climate and data literacy at the college level.
National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Carleton College W-SERC, One North College Street, Northfield, MN 55057. Tel: 540-568-6675; Fax: 540-568-8058; e-mail:; Website:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Colorado
Grant or Contract Numbers: DUE091875