Broadening Student Horizons: The Development, Delivery, and Assessment of a New Course in Earth System Science


Earth System Science is an exceptionally interdisciplinary field requiring knowledge and skills from multiple scientific disciplines. Many important questions lie at the intersection of traditional disciplines and require a systems level approach. The emerging educational challenge is to train the next generation of scientists to address these topics. Here, we describe the development, delivery, and assessment of a new course in Earth System Science designed for advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students. The course was designed to meet specific learning objectives, delivered in an inquiry-based learning environment, and assessed to determine the extent to which the learning objectives had been attained. The course consisted of readings from both texts and primary literature, lectures by UNH professors and NASA scientists, computer modeling labs, and interdisciplinary student-team research projects. Results emphasize the importance of pre-planning and resources, establishing clear and concise student learning objectives, creating of an inquiry-based learning centered environment, role-modeling how Earth System Science research is done, and meeting student demand and institutional challenges. This class can serve as a model course for upper level undergraduates and beginning graduate students to expand their disciplinary scope, skills, and readiness to address Earth System Science questions.


Earth Sciences, Earth Systems Research Center

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Journal of Geoscience Education


The National Association of Geoscience Teachers

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