Use of geodetic data in the introductory geoscience classroom: Design and assessment results from the GETSI Project’s ice mass and sea level changes module Abstract


  • Developing widely adoptable, data-driven curricular materials for introductory undergraduates requires careful consideration of the range of potential faculty users, course formats, and student populations. The NSF-supported GETSI (Geodesy Tools for Societal Issues) project develops and disseminates teaching and learning materials for engaging undergraduates in addressing critical Earth science issues using geodetic data. From 2014-2015, the first of two instructional modules for introductory students, Ice Mass and Sea Level Changes, was developed by 2 faculty co-authors from different institution types (community college and R1 institution); informed by science advisors; pilot tested; assessed; and published. In the 2-3 week module, students interpret geodetic data from the Greenland Ice Sheet to assess spatial patterns and causes of ice mass loss; evaluate the impact of ice sheet mass change on global and regional sea level; and consider the societal implications of ice sheet mass and sea level changes. The module consists of 5 units that may be implemented individually or in their entirety and include gallery and wall walks, jigsaw activities, small and large-group discussions, and quantitative exercises using air temperature, sea level, GRACE, ice elevation, and bedrock GPS time-series data. To address the GETSI guiding principles of geodesy-related grand challenges facing society and interdisciplinary thinking, the module includes case studies of the impact of sea level change on Bangladesh, New York City, and southern California, as well as other communities’ responses to contemporary sea level changes. We will provide a summary of the module content and discuss how formative and summative assessment data provided insight into student misconceptions and guidance for co-authors on the module revisions that occurred between pilot testing and publication. We will also discuss the benefits and challenges of using Greenland geodetic data in the introductory geoscience classroom.

publication date

  • 2015

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