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Charlton perez pbl_met

  1. 1. Introducing Problem Based Learning Approaches in Meteorology Andrew Charlton-Perez Dept. of Meteorology, Univ. of Reading Submitted in partial fulfillment of the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice January 2011
  2. 2. AbstractProblem based learning, despite recent controversies about its effectiveness, is usedextensively as a teaching method throughout higher education in the UK and at theUniversity of Reading. In Meteorology, there has been little attempt to incorporate PBLtechniques into the curriculum. Motivated by a desire to enhance the reflectiveengagement of students within a current field course module, this project describes theimplementation of two test PBL activities. By the end of a two-year program of design,implementation, testing and reflection/reevaluation two robust, engaging activities havebeen developed which provide an enhanced and diverse learning environment on the fieldcourse. The results suggest that PBL techniques would be a useful addition to theMeteorology curriculum and suggestions for courses and activities which may benefit fromthis approach are included in the conclusions.
  3. 3. Contents1. Introduction to the problem and existing course design 1.1. The problem - passive engagement of students 1.2. Test module - Atmospheric Science field course 1.3. Assessment of current course design 1.4. Potential approaches to the problem considered2. Problem based learning 2.1.Broad advantages and disadvantages 2.2.Implementation in higher education3. Proposed changes to module 3.1. Introducing two problem based learning elements 3.2. Ozonesonde launch 3.3. Climate monitoring station design 3.4. Revised course design4. Methodology of implementation and assessment 4.1. Timetable of implementation and practical considerations 4.2. Assessment methods5. Results from implementation in 2009 5.1. Raw survey results 5.2. Reflection on student experience 5.3. Informal consultation with colleagues 5.4. Consistency of evaluation using all three evaluation methods 5.5. Proposed changes to activities6. Results from implementation in 2010 6.1. Raw survey results 6.2. Reflection on student experience 6.3. Consistency of evaluation using all three evaluation methods 6.4. Informal consultation with colleagues7. Summary and discussion of impacts 7.1. Module specific success of PBL activities 7.2. Wider implications for teaching of Meteorology 7.3. Potential areas in which small PBL projects would be beneficial 7.4. A proposal for an improved undergraduate final year project/dissertation 7.5. Reflections on course design in general
  4. 4. 1. Introducing the problem Problem based learning approaches in Meteorology1. Introducing the problem and existing course designThis project will assess both the feasibility and usefulness of problem based learningapproaches in Meteorology teaching. Two new problem based learning activities will beintroduced to an existing fieldwork based Meteorology module. The activities are designedin line with best practice guidelines for problem based learning but are designed to besufficiently different that conclusions about the overall suitability of problem based learningfor Meteorological teaching can be drawn. The success of the new activities will beassessed using a combination of student feedback, peer observation, analysis of resultingstudent outputs and personal reflection. Given the small number of students involved inthe activity designing a range of evaluation techniques is crucial to measuring itʼs success.A control group of students will take part in both activities so that they can be compared.1.1 The problem - passive engagement of studentsMeteorology as a subject has a strong practical, experimental component. Teachingstudents how to make effective measurements and how to use the data collectedappropriately is a key part of our undergraduate curriculum which also provides a strongtransferable skill. Although a large element of practical work is included in the University ofReadingʼs Meteorology and Climate BSc and MMet programs, in its current form much ofthis teaching follows a relatively traditional model of several self-contained experimentswith well defined expected outcomes known prior to students conducting the experiments.While this approach has definite value to students, it fails to allow students to address keycomponents of the most widely held view of experiential learning, the Kolb learning cycle(Kolb, 1984). This model of experiential learning is reproduced below: Concrete experience Reflective observation Active experimentation Abstract conceptualizationFigure 1: Kolb learning cycle1.2 Test module - Atmospheric Science field courseThe module chosen to test the implementation of PBL approaches in Meteorology isMT37H/MT4XH Atmospheric Science field course. This module is jointly taught withcolleagues from the University of Leeds. The course is residential and takes place over 8days based at a field centre on the Isle of Arran. Typically there are around 35 students onthe course, split 50:50 between students from Reading and Leeds. The course is offeredat both level 6 and level 7. The background of students on the course is diverse, with awide range of mathematical skill in particular a major challenge. Activities on the courseare primarily field based and include an all day hike to the top of Goat Fell (~850m) takingmeasurements on the way. The course is worth 10 credits and for students on the level 6version all analysis and commentary on the results is completed in the field.The traditional approach to practical experimental learning incorporates only the activeexperimentation and concrete experience stages of the Kolb learning cycle. A continuingchallenge is to incorporate the aspects of more reflective observation of what has beenAndrew Charlton-Perez 1
  5. 5. 1. Introducing the problem Problem based learning approaches in Meteorologylearned in the experiment and to then use that observation to form more general abstractconclusions about how the atmosphere works.To try to tackle this problem, in 2006 the atmospheric science field course was introducedto the BSc program. I have been a member of staff on this course since its inception andthe co-convener of the module since 2008. On this field course, students have theopportunity to participate in several different experiments at once, allowing them theopportunity to try to piece abstract concepts about the atmosphere together. However, aremaining problem on the course is that all the experiments have been designed by thestaff participating to have simple outcomes, known at the outset by both staff and students.Therefore, the reflective observation link in the Kolb learning cycle chain is often opaque orbroken, making it difficult for the students to move to higher-level abstractconceptualization. In addition, from 2008 the course has been offered at both the BSc andMMet level, without adequate provision for students at the M-level to further enhance theirlearning through more detailed abstract conceptualization.The problem for the course, and by extension the BSc and MMet programs in general cantherefore be summarized as:• There is not adequate opportunity for students to reflect upon the experimental choicesmade in practical meteorology courses. This leads, through truncation of the Kolb learningcycle, to little or no fundamental abstract learning about appropriate generic experimentaldesign, a key transferable skill.• Additionally, there is currently no existing pathway for gifted and talented students,generally registered on the MMet program, to progress their learning along these lines.The lack of this pathway prevents the MMet from providing adequate training at the M-level suitable for students who may progress to higher academic scholarship.1.3 Assessment of current course designTo fully examine the current structure of the course and the way that itʼs current structuremaps to the Kolb learning cycle a course map (Conole, 2010) was completed. Mapping thecourse in this way provides a concise summary of its current state and highlights theissues discussed in the previous section. Since the test module is made up of a series ofdiscrete activities, it has also been possible to map these activities to the Kolb learningcycle. As described above this identifies the lack of activities which both follow the learningcycle model and those which miss crucial steps, particularly the opportunity for reflection.A video diary describing the initial mapping of the course and the problem at hand can befound at: By mapping the course in this way,additional issues associated with the course are highlighted or emphasized:• The lack of opportunity for reflection in the course is clear, only the weather forecastingactivity (blue dot) provides ways for students to examine their own work or put it in thecontext of others work. As a consequence many of the activities ʻshort-circuitʼ the Kolblearning cycle.• Along with this lack of reflective elements, no opportunity is provided to the students forformative feedback on their work. While the high staff-student ratio on the course doesallow staff to informally have a dialogue with students to improve their understanding,there is no way for students to gain feedback on their written work, which is in some waysa more concrete demonstration of their understanding.• The Weather forecasting activity is clearly quite separate and distinct from the otheractivities on the course and provides a good way of introducing a variety of teachingstyles. However, since many of the other activities are quite similar, an additional activitywhich filled some of the gaps identified by this analysis would be beneficial in furtherbroadening the teaching of the module.Andrew Charlton-Perez 2
  6. 6. 1. Introducing the problem Problem based learning approaches in Meteorology Figure 2: Course map for Atmospheric Science Field Course as of December 2008 when the project began. Coloured dots in each panel correspond to the activities identified in the top right of the figure. Figure 3: Mapping of individual course elements onto Kolb learning cycle. Colours are the same as those used in the course map.Andrew Charlton-Perez 3
  7. 7. 1. Introducing the problem Problem based learning approaches in Meteorology 1.4 Potential approaches to the problem considered To address the problems identified in the previous sections and highlighted in the Atmospheric Science Field Course by the course mapping exercise several possible changes to the module were considered. Modification Advantages Disadvantages Pre-trip exercise: Ask • Engage students in • Difficult to implement students to complete an practical before start of practically since course is exercise on existing exercises. taught during vacation time exercises before arriving • Little additional resource and across two institutions. on site (Carnduff and Reid, cost. • Ensures participation in 2003). Ask students to • Some chance for exercise, but may not reflect on their answers reflection and formative particularly inspire once on site and feedback. students. completing exercises. • Opportunity to add • Existing experiments are exercises at both level 6 not well suited to major and 7. modification by students, hence limiting the chance for reflection. Peer assessment: Ask • Little additional resource • Little additional benefit for students to assess work cost. student engagement. from other group members • Some chance for • Hard to implement at midway through the reflection and formative different levels for Masters course. feedback from peers. students. • Impractical, all students have not participated in every exercise by the middle of the week and would add additional time pressure which may be unhelpful. • Hard to match prior expectations of students from two different Universities.Andrew Charlton-Perez 4
  8. 8. 1. Introducing the problem Problem based learning approaches in Meteorology Modification Advantages Disadvantages Full problem based • Allows students great • Impractical, a much learning approach: flexibility to explore higher staff to student ratio Radically shift the focus of atmospheric measurement would be required to the course by first setting and time for reflection. ensure equipment could be students a problem to • Encourages student used both safely and solve during their field motivation. effectively. Large additional work and then providing • Ability to tailor activity to cost. resources/staff time for ʻreal-worldʼ examples - • Unlikely, given the them to design improved employability for timescales involved, that experiments to solve the students. students would achieve problems. meaningful results during their time on Arran. • Hard to determine the level of the course and to offer the activities at different levels for Masters students. • May not deliver enough core content for students. Hybrid problem based • Allows students some • Maintains some activities learning approach: flexibility to explore which do not fully complete Maintain current course atmospheric measurement the Kolb learning cycle. content, but introduce a and time for reflection. • Only limited opportunities small number of more • Moderate additional for reflection and formative flexible problem based resource cost. feedback. learning elements. •Encourages student motivation. • Ability to tailor activity to ʻreal-worldʼ examples - improved employability for students. Of the options considered, it was clear that the hybrid problem based learning approach represented a compromise between a desire to add more flexible, open-ended content to the module which allowed appropriate opportunity for reflection and formative feedback and practical considerations of how to deliver a broad and successful field course in a remote location with students and staff from two different institutions. It is also the case that a hybrid option has a comparably low risk profile compared to some of the other options, since in the instance of complete failure of the exercise, the PBL element can simply be removed from consideration when assessing students. By adopting a cautious approach to the implementation of PBL elements, it will be possible to rigorously test their success in comparison to the more traditional elements of the course.Andrew Charlton-Perez 5
  9. 9. 2. Problem based learning Problem based learning approaches in Meteorology2. Problem based learningProblem based learning (PBL) is an approach to teaching and learning which forms part ofa broader spectrum of techniques known as enquiry based learning. Enquiry basedlearning can be broadly defined to have the following characteristics (Kahn and OʼRouke,2004)• Engagement with a complex situation or scenario that is sufficiently open ended to allowa variety of responses or solutions• Students direct the lines of enquiry and the methods employed• The enquiry requires students to draw on existing knowledge and to identify theirrequired learning needs• Tasks stimulate curiosity in the students, encouraging them to actively explore and seekout new evidence• Responsibility falls to the student for analysing and presenting that evidence inappropriate ways and in support of their own response to the problem.PBL in particular involves students addressing a problem in a small group and defining thefurther knowledge and investigation that they require to solve the problem. In many waysPBL is as much about identifying the key unknowns in a problem and appropriate ways totackle these problems as it is about solving the problem at hand. The PBL approach tolearning does not require students to have mastered a body of knowledge before thecompletion of a project (as in a typical undergraduate or masters dissertation) but allowsthe understanding of the student and their ability to solve the problem to evolve together.2.1 Broad advantages and disadvantagesKahn and OʼRouke (2004) list a large number of potential advantages of PBL as ateaching style particularly associated with student motivation and engagement andemployability. As they identify “...the modern “knowledge economy” places a premium onthe ability to create relevant knowledge that helps to solve specific problems...”PBL provides a way of encouraging students to participate in constructive, experientiallearning, as in the Kolb learning cycle (Fig. 1). This happens by encouraging students toengage in active experimentation to test their ideas and then using their experience of theoutcomes of their experimentation to reflect on their grasp of the knowledge at hand. Thisreflective element is particularly important and can be enhanced in the PBL model by thechance for students to contrast their own performance and knowledge with that of theirpeers.Despite these widely accepted benefits of PBL in the educational literature, there is currentcontroversy over the effectiveness of minimally guided techniques in general. Thiscontroversy links to the paper of Kirschner, Sweller and Clark (2006, KSC06) who makethe case that minimally directed techniques are incompatible with our knowledge of humancognitive architecture (in particular the Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968) sensory memory–working memory–long-term memory model). KSC06 argue that since the capacity ofworking memory is limited, placing heavy demands on it by requiring problem-basedsearching should be avoided. KSC06 argue that numerous studies have suggested that amore directed learning approach, particularly incorporating numerous ʻworked-examplesʼ isa more efficient use of novice and intermediate learners cognitive resources. Severalresponses to KSC06 exist in the literature (Schmidt et al. (2007), Hmelo-Silver et al.(2007), Kuhn (2007)) along with a commentary on these responses by the original authorsof KSC06 (Sweller et al. (2007)). Common to the discussion between most of the authorsis the idea that PBL techniques without any guidance are inferior to those with someAndrew Charlton-Perez 6
  10. 10. 2. Problem based learning Problem based learning approaches in Meteorologystrong scaffolding provided by the course leader. They also agree that much more carefulresearch with properly controlled experiments is required to fully assess the advantagesand disadvantages of different educational techniques.In practical terms, much of the discussion of the advantages and disadvantages ofminimally guided techniques is focussed on rather fundamentalist positions of fully guidedor fully unguided teaching. In reality, any implementation of PBL in Meteorology and in theArran field course in particular is likely to exist somewhere between these extremes withsome guidance provided by course tutors. It should also be recognised, however, that PBLtechniques may be more appropriate for intermediate and advanced learners and hencefor course at levels III and IV rather than levels I and II.Despite the controversy about PBL techniques in the literature it seems appropriate toinvestigate their usefulness in the Meteorological context, provided that this is within acourse with a range of different instructional techniques including directed learning. In thisway PBL techniques can be evaluated but at low potential detriment to students involvedin the course if they prove to be of limited value.2.2 Implementation in higher education and in MeteorologyVarious reviews of the implementation of problem based learning approaches in highereducation exist in the literature (e.g. Boud and Feletti, 1997, Savin-Baden 2000). Even acursory glance at these texts reveals three things about the implementation of PBL inhigher education:• PBL has been used to refer to a broad range of educational activities from the design ofan individual element of a problem class to the design of a full three-year curriculum.• The implementation of PBL varies greatly between different subjects in UK highereducation. Those with a strong element of practical problem solving (e.g. Medicine andLaw) have been by far the most enthusiastic adopters of PBL.• A barrier to the implementation of PBL more widely is the lack of understanding amongstacademic staff on their role within a PBL exercise.There has been little implementation of PBL techniques in Meteorology or in related Earthand Environmental science fields. Some literature on the implementation of PBL in GEESsubjects is available in a special edition of Planet ( Of the articles in this issue, the most relevant is that which describesthe implementation of PBL on a field course module by Perkins et al. A particularlyinteresting aspect of this article is the adoption of the ʻSeven-Jumpʼ Maastricht model forPBL tutorials (Gijselaers, 1995). This provides a framework model for tutorial structure forPBL activities which is adopted in the two new activities introduced in section 3 (with somemodification for activities which take place entirely on Arran). This model characterisesPBL learning as a series of seven ʻjumpsʼ:Andrew Charlton-Perez 7
  11. 11. 2. Problem based learning Problem based learning approaches in Meteorology Jump Activity Timing 1 Clarify terms and concepts not readily comprehensible Meeting 1 2 Define the problem 3 Analyse the problem and offer tentative explanations 4 Draw up an inventory of explanations 5 Formulate learning objectives 6 Collect further information through private study Between Meetings 7 Synthesise new information and test it against original Meeting 2 problem. Reflect and consolidate learningPerkins et al. report that PBL was had a generally positive impact on the field activities andwas equally at home in ʻhard-scienceʼ subjects (although as above, clear tutor guidancewas a key factor in its success). One major difference between our own field course andthat of Perkins et al. is the length of preparatory time which is long (16 hours) in the caseof Perkins et al. and relatively short in our case (1 hour).2.3 PBL and work-related learningAlong with itʼs benefits for student engagement, motivation and reflection PBL also has theadvantage that it fits well within a work-related learning context. As identified by Moreland(2005), work-related learning is rapidly becoming an important part of higher education,particularly with the recent focus on ʻemployabilityʼ (Yorke, 2004). Yorke definesemployability as:“a set of achievements – skills, understandings and personal attributes – that makesgraduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations,which benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy.”Improving the employability of graduates from higher education is key to ensuring both thatour courses offer students value for their substantial investment in their future and inmaintaining the competitive position of the UK economy in the face of increasedinternational competition and change. Moreland identifies key areas of work-relatedlearning which can help contribute to graduate employability:• Learning and practising skills and personal attributes of value in the world of work (SkillfulPractices);• Experiencing the world of work (or facsimiles thereof) to provide insights and learninginto the world of work predominantly associated with the subjects of oneʼs highereducation studies (Understandings); and• Experiencing and learning how to learn and manage oneself in a range of situations, including (of course) those to be found at work (Metacognition).The prime example of this work-related learning already present in the AtmosphericScience Field Course is the Weather Forecasting activity which is designed to be afacsimile of the real-world forecasting problem. PBL activities are an additional way tointroduce some of these elements into the Meteorology curriculum by providing a facsimileof a real-world research or operational problem for students to address. In designing newPBL elements for the course, it is important to remember the fit to these work-relatedlearning goals.Andrew Charlton-Perez 8
  12. 12. 3. Proposed changes to module Problem based learning approaches in Meteorology3. Proposed changes to module3.1 Introducing two problem based learning elementsWith the key messages of the proceeding literature in mind, two similar but different PBLapproaches were introduced into the atmospheric science field course module. The first ofthese PBL activities involves students on both the BSc and MMet programs and studentsfrom our partner the University of Leeds. It focuses on trying to address issues of missingstages in the Kolb learning cycle outlined above. The second activity involves only thosestudents on the MMet program and is completed over a longer period upon return toReading. The aim of this activity is to provide a second M-level route to obtainingappropriate professional skills in environmental monitoring.3.2 Ozonesonde launchThis activity involves the design of an experiment to launch an ozonesonde, a piece ofequipment attached to a weather balloon, designed to measure ozone concentrationsthroughout the atmosphere. The experiment is a key integrative part of the field coursemodule since it combines many of the concepts of atmospheric chemistry and physicsdealt with in other parts of the course. Students are already be part of mixed University ofReading/University of Leeds teams for other activities. The students are told that we onlyhave the resources to launch a single ozonesonde and that they should design anexperiment to maximize the benefit of observations from a single launch.The activity proceeds as follows:• The activity is introduced in a short lecture and through course documents. Someinformation about ozone in the atmosphere is given along with some technical detailsabout the equipment available for use.• Students break into teams to discuss how and when to launch the ozonesonde. Theyhave access both to staff (who act as facilitators) and forecast information about futureweather conditions which determines when an interesting time to launch would be. (This isthe initial abstract conceptualization phase).• Students are asked to write a short ʻgrant proposalʼ for the launch. The proposals arethen be presented to a steering committee of staff who assess which of the proposals totake forward. (This is the first part of the active experimentation phase).• The ozonesonde is launched according to the instructions of the successful bid and dataprovided to all of the groups to analyze. (This is the second part of the activeexperimentation phase).• Following the launch students analyze both the data produced by the experiment butalso the differences between the winning bid and their own. They comment on thedifferences between their bid and the winning bid and identify any deficiency based on theresults of the experiment. This part is crucial since it requires the students to enter thereflective phase, based on the experimental design and to build this reflection back intotheir original abstract conceptualization.A detailed description of the activity is attached to this document as appendix I.3.3 Climate monitoring station designThis activity takes place following the return of students on the MMet program from Arran.This is a relatively small group of students, but all members are common with activity 1giving an opportunity to compare and contrast results. The problem given to the studentsis to design a new climate monitoring station for Arran based both on their experience ofthe field course location and meteorology and further original research from existingliterature. The activity is facilitated by the module convener and two members ofMeteorology research staff in three one-hour discussion sessions.Andrew Charlton-Perez 9
  13. 13. 3. Proposed changes to module Problem based learning approaches in MeteorologyStudents are asked to produce a 15 page design specification for the climate monitoringstation detailing equipment used, fit to national and international monitoring priorities andoperating procedure.This activity is designed to be much more open-ended than activity I. The first task of thestudents will be to decide on the priorities for the climate monitoring based on their ownanalysis of the literature and discussion in group forum. In this sense the activityspecifically targets the reflective observation and abstract conceptualization elements ofthe Kolb learning cycle, whilst using the observational experience gained on Arran as theactive experimentation and concrete experience phases. The final assessment of thedesign specification emphasizes these aspects.A detailed description of the activity is attached to this document as appendix II.3.4 Revised course designFigure 4 shows the revised course design incorporating the new PBL elements. Notice thatmany of the gaps in the previous design, particularly the lack of reflective elements andformative assessment have been filled by incorporating the new PBL elements. A key partof this design is making the assessment of the initial research proposals formative ratherthan summative since this allows for reflection on the part of the students in theirworkbooks based on our assessment of their work. By making the reflective element partof the summative assessment we ensure that students value and take part in thereflection. A similar approach has been adopted for the observing system activity byrequiring students to actively criticise each others work in the tutorial sessions whichsupport the activity (although this reflective element is not included as part of theassessment). PBL activities, by their nature, map well onto the Kolb learning cycle (Figure5). The more open-ended questions that they pose mean that students have to refine theirunderstanding through testing, particularly while refining the approaches to tackle theproblem at hand.Andrew Charlton-Perez 10
  14. 14. 3. Proposed changes to module Problem based learning approaches in Meteorology Figure 4: Course map for Atmospheric Science Field Course as of December 2009 following the implementation of new activities described in section 3. Coloured diamonds show new activities. Blue text shows additional contribution to course elements. Figure 5: Mapping of 2009 course to Kolb learning cycle. New elements are included as cyan and brown arrows. Notice that these elements map a complete Kolb cycle.Andrew Charlton-Perez 11
  15. 15. 4. Implementation and assessment Problem based learning approaches in Meteorology4. Method of implementation and assessment4.1 Timetable of implementation and practical considerationsDesign of the new PBL methods took place during academic year 2008/9 and wasintroduced into the course in Autumn 2009. The experiment was then repeated with somemodification in autumn 2010. One practical difficulty in the implementation in the first yearwas that I was on paternity leave at the time of implementation of the ozonesonde activityand did not take part in this exercise. All equipment required for the ozonesonde activitywas tested before deployment and produced good results. One difficulty encountered indesigning the ozonesonde activity was the very broad background knowledge of thestudents. Hence, it was thought likely that the background material provided in the coursehandbook would need to be refined substantially after first implementation and that coursestaff might be required to give more guidance than for a normal PBL activity in this firstinstance.4.2 Evaluation methodsWith any new teaching and learning activity a crucial part of its successful introduction is arobust evaluation (Fry, Ketteridge and Marshall, 2008). Project evaluation was conductedusing a range of techniques including student feedback, peer observation, analysis ofresulting student outputs and personal reflection.Student feedback was obtained through a carefully designed diagnostic questionnaire(Gibbs, Habeshaw and Habeshaw, 1988) which specifically explores the distinctionsbetween the PBL approach and more traditional approaches used for the majority of thefield course. A similar diagnostic questionnaire was applied to both activities and somequestions were added to the questionnaire for activity II to specifically explore thedifferences between the two activities. In particular these questions explored if a moreopen ended and longer activity was preferable for the control group of gifted and talentedstudents.Peer observation from other staff was also easy to implement since both activities takeplace within a staff intensive environment. Feedback was obtained broadly through aseparate diagnostic questionnaire and through an unstructured interview with colleagues.Again the emphasis was on which aspects of the PBL approach work well within ameteorological context.The third stream of evaluation was through examination of student outputs for each activityand personal reflection from this perspective. Since a set of clear goals for theimprovement of the teaching and learning experience has been drawn it should bepossible to qualitatively measure student outputs against them.4.2.1 Student and staff questionnairesFor each of the activities, feedback was sought from both staff and students with acarefully designed questionnaire. Example, blank questionnaires are shown in AppendixIII. The motivation behind each question is described in Appendix IV.4.2.2 Unstructured interviews with colleaguesTo gain further insight into staff impressions of the PBL activities I conducted short (30min)interviews with experienced colleagues who participated in the two activities. The topics tobe covered were dependent upon answers to the staff and student questionnaires. Theinterviews were used to check that answers to the questionnaires were truly diagnostic,providing an independent check of the methodology. Since there was a strong correlationbetween the answers given on the questionnaires and results from the interviews, I amAndrew Charlton-Perez 12
  16. 16. 4. Implementation and assessment Problem based learning approaches in Meteorologyconfident that this is the case and do not provide a detailed breakdown of results from theinterviews.4.2.3 Assessment of students workFollowing submission of final work assessment was also made of students work on theproject. In general results were mixed, but generally consistent with performance in otheractivities in the course and showed that students had actively engaged with the PBLactivities. I am comfortable that the reflective element of the activities was wellincorporated since all students provided some reflection on their own and others work.Since results of this analysis are somewhat more qualitative than the diagnosticquestionnaire and broadly agree with its results they are mentioned only briefly below.Andrew Charlton-Perez 13
  17. 17. 5. Results 2009 Problem based learning approaches in Meteorology5. Results from implementation in 2009The two activities were first implemented as part of the course during academic year2009/10. The course took place between 4th and 11th September on the Isle of Arran. I didnot attend the course since I was on paternity leave. 32 students took part in the course,16 from Reading and 16 from Leeds. Of those students, 3 from Reading took the course atthe M-level and also participated in the observing system design activity during the autumnterm 2009/10. The average mark for the course overall was 63% with a standard deviationof 5%. The ozonesonde activity had an average mark of 64% with a standard deviation of10%. The observing system design activity had an average mark of 62% (no standarddeviation is recorded since only three students participated).5.1 Raw survey results 2009 Assessment of PBL Meteorology activities O3 O3 OBS. SYS. OBS. SYSCRITERIA S.D. S.D. STUDENTS STAFF STUDENTS STAFFHow well did students 3.2 1.2 3.5 2.1 6.0 3.5understand the task?How easily did groups 3.5 1.6 2.3 1.9 4.3 2.5quickly focus on the keyquestions required?Was the activity a good 4.4 1.6 6.3 1.0 4.7 3.5simulation of a ‘real-world’caseDid you anticipate the 3.7 1.7 5.0 2.9 4.7 3.5activity would improve yourspecific subjectunderstanding?How well did students 2.9 1.3 2.7 2.0 2.0 1.5engage with specificreflective activityWas all the information 3.9 2.2 5.3 2.1 7.7 1.5required provided to you inthe project text?How much were staff used 2.8 1.9 5.3 2.1 1.7 4.5to give subject specificinformationHow much were staff used 4.9 2.7 6.8 2.1 1.7 4.5to give generic skillsinformationDid comparison with other 3.0 1.7 6.3 2.8 N/A 1.0groups/students helpstudents to reflect on theirwork?Andrew Charlton-Perez 14
  18. 18. 5. Results 2009 Problem based learning approaches in Meteorology O3 O3 OBS. SYS. OBS. SYSCRITERIA S.D. S.D. STUDENTS STAFF STUDENTS STAFFDid reflection help students 5.3 3.0 4.7 1.5 N/A 6.0improve theirunderstanding?Did students agree with the 2.8 2.3 N/A N/A N/Astaff assessment?Did the activity improve N/A 2.7 1.5 N/A 3.0students generic skills?Did the activity improve 3.7 1.5 3.3 1.5 N/A 2.0students subject specificskills?Did you prefer the time N/A N/A 3.0 N/Aconstraint in the O3 activityto the open-ended Obs.Sys. activity?Did you prefer working on N/A N/A 5.0 N/Ayour own in the Obs. Sys.activity rather than in ateam in the O3 activity?The Obs. Sys. Activity N/A N/A 4.0 N/Aimproved my subjectspecific knowledge morethan the O3 activity?The Obs. Sys. Activity was N/A N/A 2.0 N/Aat a higher educational levelthan the O3 activity?Table 1: Results of student survey of PBL activities following implementation in year 1(2009). Marks are awarded by participants on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the highestmark. N/A means a question was not asked to gain this information. Statistics are basedon 18 student surveys and 4 staff surveys for the ozonesonde activity and 3 studentsurveys and 2 staff surveys for the observing system activity.5.2 Reflection on student experienceIn general both activities were well received by the students who assessed generally highgrades in most categories. The questions can be useful divided up into four broadcategories on which to assess the success of the PBL implementation. The first set ofquestions assess how well the activity was structured and communicated to students.Clearly the small group of students who took part in the observing system activity did notfully understand their task and this may have reduced their motivation in taking part(Action: Improving documentation and introduction of task for 2010). There is aninteresting discrepancy between the perception of the ozonesonde activity as a goodsimulation of a real world task between the students (who generally thought it was) and thestaff (whoʼs reaction was more mixed). In many ways this is a positive outcome since itsuggests that the task was simpler than a complex real-world grant proposal but that thisdid not detract from itʼs appeal to the students. In all activities both staff and studentsjudged the students to engage well with the reflective part of the activity which is a key partof the Kolb cycle and crucial to this new activity which is positive. Interestingly, the extentAndrew Charlton-Perez 15
  19. 19. 5. Results 2009 Problem based learning approaches in Meteorologyto which the students and staff believed that the reflection helped the students improvetheir understanding was more mixed (Action: Reconsider the reflective part of the activityto ensure it boosts student understanding).The second set of questions deals with how students gained required information for thetask. This shows the expected split between the two activities with the ozonesonde activityproviding most of the required information in written form and the observing system activityrequiring students to do their own research and engage with staff. When assessing howstaff were used, students were generally more pessimistic about their own input andclaimed staff influenced both their subject specific and generic skills more than the staffperceive. This is perhaps to be expected, but it is important for the success of the activitythat the students believe that it is their input and decisions which influenced the directionof both projects. It is important that staff act as facilitators of the discussion since part ofthe PBL learning process is shaping and refining the problem at hand (Action: Reiterate tostaff that their role should be advisory only and that they should allow groups to make theirown project decisions - even if this leads to a weaker project overall).The third set of questions deals with the assessment of the activity post-facto by bothgroups. As mentioned above, both staff and students were somewhat mixed in theirassessment of the utility of the reflective elements of the activities. Interestingly, studentsbelieved that the comparison with other groups was a very helpful part of the ozonesondeactivity, whereas staff were more circumspect. In general the projects scored well amongstall groups in their ability to improve both generic and specific skills.Finally, the group of students who participated in both the ozonesonde and observingsystem activities were asked to compare them. Interestingly for broader applications ofPBL in Meteorology there was a clear preference for the time-limited ozonesonde activityand the focus that this brought to discussion. However in general the students believed theobserving system activity to be at a higher educational level, which again fits well with thecourse design.Participants were also asked to make specific and general comments on the activities.Few comments were received, but some of the most interesting are shown below:Student“I didnʼt have much of an idea of what I was supposed to be doing or how to get a goodmark in this.”“Good but should only be done sometimes.”“Encourages time keeping.”“Makes you think more for yourself which encourages learning.”“I prefer more lecture based teaching, not a fan of large research projects stuff. It isimportant it is more real-world, but 40% is still too heavy a weighting.”“Initial knowledge of the area needs to be taught first to better be able to do theseactivities, but it challenges you to think about stuff in a more realistic context which isgood.”“It encourages you to think for yourself more. Although I didnʼt like it to begin with it hastaught me a lot.”Staff“Encourages vibrant interaction between staff/student so that ideas are created anddeveloped quickly. Allowed for quickly working through problems and assimilation ofscientific knowledge.”Andrew Charlton-Perez 16
  20. 20. 5. Results 2009 Problem based learning approaches in Meteorology“Good activity, although students found assessment of the speaking part a bit vague.”“You cover a lot less content but it may be more effective and the student learns a lot morefrom it by making mistakes and learning/developing things by himself. Combined withtraditional approaches to teach the basics I think it is highly useful.”5.3 Informal consultation with colleaguesInformal consultation with colleagues revealed that both activities had been well receivedin the first instance and had enabled students to be more actively engaged in their learningand to explore different facets of both problems than they might otherwise have done. Themajor discussion point for the ozonesonde activity was the lack of training of staff both forthe PBL process and in the specifics of the activity itself. There was particular concernabout the role that the reflective activity should play. The major discussion point for theobserving system activity was the lack of engagement between students and staffmembers outside contact hours. Both staff members felt that the students were disinclinedto ask for help and expertise even though this was explicitly offered.5.4 Consistency of evaluation using all three evaluation methodsA coherent picture of the successes and failures of the activities in their firstimplementation arises from consideration of all three methods of evaluation. In general,staff and students found the activity to be worthwhile and both in the questionnaireevaluation and the informal interviews thought that the PBL approach promoted activeengagement amongst the students. Evaluation of student work, informal staff interviewsand the questionnaire responses highlighted the problems in the introduction of thereflective elements, particularly in relation to the way in which staff participated in theactivity. There are however, some elements in which the different evaluation techniquesgive different pictures of the activities. Although the survey results suggested studentsdidnʼt fully understand the purpose of the observing system activity the student outputs(both in terms of a qualitative or quantitative evaluation) did not suggest that theyperformed any better or worse than in the ozonesonde activity or in the course in general.Staff interviews seemed to confirm the view that part of the dissatisfaction with theobserving system activity was dominated by the views of one student who set a veryconfrontational tone from the beginning of the tutorials.5.5 Proposed changes to activitiesIdentified actions to improve the activity for 2010 are:• Improving documentation and introduction of observing system task for 2010.The documentation of the activity was revised to the current version shown in Appendix II.In addition, research staff who assisted in teaching the module were asked to give twoshort presentations in the first tutorial to provide key information on observing techniquesto the students. These presentations were shared with the students via Blackboard.• Re-consider the reflective part of the ozonesonde activity to ensure it boosts studentunderstanding.• Re-iterate to staff that their role should be advisory only and that they should allowgroups to make their own project decisions - even if this leads to a weaker project overall.These two changes were brought about by enhanced staff training prior to the exerciseand by communication of the staff assessment of the proposals to the students. All staffwere informally briefed on what was expected from the students and the purposes of thereflective activity. Staff then ensured that the purpose of the activity was explained tostudents when they asked questions about it. Staff were also encouraged to act asfacilitators of each groups thinking. Once the staff ʻsteering-committeeʼ had assessed theproposals, in addition to communicating the result to students, 10 minutes was spentexplaining the reasons for this choice to them.Andrew Charlton-Perez 17
  21. 21. 5. Results 2009 Problem based learning approaches in Meteorology• Add informal contact periods (ʻoffice hoursʼ) to the observing system activity to encourageinformal contact between staff and students.This was done, although it did not seem to encourage informal contact.These actions were undertaken during academic year 2010 and modified activities wereintroduced into the course in September 2010. The assessment of the activities isrepeated and described in the next chapter.Andrew Charlton-Perez 18
  22. 22. 6. Results 2010 Problem based learning approaches in Meteorology6. Results from implementation in 2010The second implementation of the two activities occurred as part of the course duringacademic year 2010/11. The course took place between 5th and 12th September on theIsle of Arran. 35 students took part in the course, 12 from Reading and 17 from Leeds. Ofthose students, 5 from Reading took the course at the M-level and also participated in theobserving system design activity during the Autumn term 2010/11. The average mark forthe course overall was 61% with a standard deviation of 4%. The ozonesonde activity hadan average mark of 56% with a standard deviation of 4%. It should be noted that adifferent academic colleague at Leeds was responsible for marking the ozonesondeactivity in each year of the course. While every effort is made to standardize marking,experience in previous years shows that the lower mark in the 2010 implementation ispartly related to this change in marker. The observing system design activity had anaverage mark of 65% with a standard deviation of 7%.6.1 Raw survey results 2010 Assessment of PBL Meteorology activities O3 O3 OBS. SYS. OBS. SYSCRITERIA S.D. S.D. STUDENTS STAFF STUDENTS STAFFHow well did students 3.2 2.1 4.0 n/a 3.2 3.0understand the task?How easily did groups 4.2 1.9 3.0 2.7 2.6 3.0quickly focus on the keyquestions required?Was the activity a good 4.2 2.3 4.7 3.8 2.4 2.5simulation of a ‘real-world’caseDid you anticipate the 3.7 2.3 2.3 1.5 1.6 2.0activity would improve yourspecific subjectunderstanding?How well did students 3.4 2.2 3.7 3.8 1.2 2.0engage with specificreflective activityWas all the information 3.5 1.7 3.5 3.5 2.8 2.5required provided to you inthe project text?How much were staff used 2.2 1.1 6.7 2.3 1.4 5.5to give subject specificinformationHow much were staff used 3.8 2.7 4.7 3.1 3.4 4.5to give generic skillsinformationAndrew Charlton-Perez 19
  23. 23. 6. Results 2010 Problem based learning approaches in Meteorology O3 O3 OBS. SYS. OBS. SYSCRITERIA S.D. S.D. STUDENTS STAFF STUDENTS STAFFDid comparison with other 2.3 1.1 2.5 0.7 N/A 2.5groups/students helpstudents to reflect on theirwork?Did reflection help students 2.8 2.6 3.5 0.7 N/A 4.5improve theirunderstanding?Did students agree with the 3.6 2.6 N/A N/A N/Astaff assessment?Did the activity improve N/A 3.0 1.7 N/A 3.5students generic skills?Did the activity improve 2.6 1.7 3.3 2.5 N/A 3.5students subject specificskills?Did you prefer the time N/A N/A 6.8 N/Aconstraint in the O3 activityto the open-ended Obs.Sys. activity?Did you prefer working on N/A N/A 3.6 N/Ayour own in the Obs. Sys.activity rather than in ateam in the O3 activity?The Obs. Sys. Activity N/A N/A 3.4 N/Aimproved my subjectspecific knowledge morethan the O3 activity?The Obs. Sys. Activity was N/A N/A 3.6 N/Aat a higher educational levelthan the O3 activity?Table 2: Results of student survey of PBL activities following implementation in year 1(2010). Marks are awarded by participants on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the highestmark. N/A means a question was not asked to gain this information. Statistics are basedon 21 student surveys and 3 staff surveys for the ozonesonde activity and 5 studentsurveys and 2 staff surveys for the observing system activity.6.2 Reflection on improvement to PBL activities in second year of implementationIn summary, results from the evaluation of the PBL activity in the second year ofimplementation are extremely positive. In most cases where the evaluation of the 2009module revealed that the activity had been successful this positive result was maintained.In the areas where the 2009 evaluation identified improvements could be made thechanges made to the PBL procedure have generally improved both student and staffevaluation, specifically:• The improved documentation and introductory lectures incorporated into the observingsystem activity significantly improved scores in the first part of the survey, particularly forAndrew Charlton-Perez 20
  24. 24. 6. Results 2010 Problem based learning approaches in Meteorologystudents showing that they understood the task better, were able to quickly focus on thetask at hand, that they felt that the task was a reasonable simulation of a real-world activityand that they engaged strongly with the reflective activity.• The improved oral description and staff training for the reflective part of the ozonesondeactivity significantly improved the scores of both staff and students in this part of thesurvey. Particularly pleasing is the gain in the mark for subject specific skills for both staffand students.Another interesting result of the second evaluation, perhaps related to the small samplesize and variation between student groups is the lack of preference for the timeconstrained, ozonesonde activity in the 2010 cohort. While there was a strong preferencefor this activity in the 2009 cohort, the 2010 was enthusiastic about the observing systemactivity, but expressed no clear preference for this PBL style as opposed to the morelimited, focussed ozonesonde activity.The 2010 control cohort which participated in both PBL activities also produced a numberof interesting comments and suggestions on PBL in general:“...applying what you learn to a real-lifeʼ situation focuses oneʼs mind and gives thelearning/research , etc., a full purpose...”“I thought it was a very good way to go, in that we got the benefit of people which muchmore expertise. Also it was done in a relaxed way which was good.”They also had some interesting thoughts on how PBL might be applied more generally intheir degree program:“In Meteorology, it would be good to have more of this form of teaching...”“ do it justice, it should come at a time where other deadlines are not imminent.”“Maybe with the final project a little more.”Staff comments highlighted that this approach was only really successful with outgoingand able students (a comparison between the two cohorts participating in the observingsystem activity was quite revealing). The 2009 cohort which was socially dominated byone student of quite low background ability did not engage fully with the exercise and as aresult the cohort had a worse impression overall of the exercise and performed morepoorly. The second cohort, which was generally of higher background ability engaged fullywith the exercise and were more content with itʼs learning objectives and had overall betterperformance.6.3 Consistency of evaluation using all three evaluation methodsAs in the assessment of 2009 results, there is broad consistency between the threemethods of evaluation of the activity (questionnaire, staff interviews, student outputs). Inparticular the improvements to the reflective part of the activity were echoed through allmethods of evaluation. This lends confidence to the overall evaluation of the PBL elementsdescribed above. Although the student output mark for the ozonesonde activity is lowerthan in the 2009 implementation and low compared to the overall course mark, moredetailed qualitative comparison of student outputs suggests that there was not a decline inquality between the two cohorts. The change in mark is likely related to the change in themarker as noted above.6.4 Continue implementation of PBL in field course?The two test implementations of PBL to the field course have generally been a success asshown by the generally positive evaluation of the activity by students and staff alike. TheAndrew Charlton-Perez 21
  25. 25. 6. Results 2010 Problem based learning approaches in Meteorologyimprovements to the activities implemented for the 2010 version appear to have produceda robust methodology for both approaches which can and should be continued. For furtherdevelopment, as suggested by a colleague from Leeds in informal interview, it would bebeneficial to modify the ozonesonde activity so that more outcomes of the experiment arepossible. This would increase the diversity of student proposals and lead to a more fruitfulreflective portion of the activity. One suggestion would be to replace the ozonesonde in theproposal with a standard additional radiosonde. For technical reasons, there are morechances that this would lead to interesting and provocative observations, giving greaterscope for student creativity in the activity.Andrew Charlton-Perez 22
  26. 26. 7. Conclusions Problem based learning approaches in Meteorology7. Conclusions and discussion7.1 Overall reflection on the use of PBL in this moduleIn conclusion the experiments with a PBL approach in Meteorology have proved to be verysuccessful and have provided useful new content for an existing course in an innovativestyle unfamiliar to students. In general students enjoyed the freedom given to them by thisapproach and felt that it was a reasonably faithful simulation of a real-world activity therebyimproving their motivation for the task in question.We plan to continue the experiment in future years and to seek to refine the methodologyused to improve its implementation. One idea for the ozonesonde activity would be toswitch the science experiment in question to one with more potential outcomes andexperimental strategies to improve the diversity of student responses and observedfeatures. Nonetheless, clearly the PBL methodology has an important part to play in themodule, coupled with other teaching approaches.7.2 PBL in Meteorology more generallyMore generally, I certainly see a role for PBL teaching within Meteorology as acomplement to our existing teaching styles. Teaching in our department is already highlydiverse and well regarded and PBL should be considered as simply ʻanother tool in theboxʼ to help refresh and revise our teaching. I would not however advocate moving ourwhole curriculum to a PBL or EBL style as is done in some disciplines and institutions(particularly in the medical sciences). Since Meteorology represents somewhat of adeparture for some students from their previous background knowledge and generalapproach to learning, a full PBL curriculum would not be able to provide the requiredbreadth and depth of material that students require, particularly in their first two years ofhigher education.If I were to discuss with a colleague the ways in which PBL might be useful for them Iwould emphasise the real-world simulation aspect and its affect on student motivation. Tosuccessfully implement a PBL activity they would need to think carefully about the kind ofactivity they could introduce, if the students had significant training and maturity to dealwith this kind of learning and carefully design resources which provided adequate but nottoo comprehensive background material for the students. As was evident from staffresponses, there is also a clear need to educate staff involved in the activity about thelimits and purpose of their role in the activity and the module convener should considerhow best to do this in conjunction with designing the activity.7.3 Potential areas in which small PBL projects would be beneficialAs mentioned above, there are some clear benefits to a limited amount of PBL teaching inmodule which could be incorporated into other parts of our Meteorology curriculum. Havingconsidered our program in general, there are a few obvious candidates for small tests ofPBL to see if the lessons learnt in this project transfer to other modules. All of thesemodules are ʻadvancedʼ modules i.e. they would be taken in the final year of the studentsthree or four year degree programPractical classesMeteorology, as a large department, benefits significantly from a large number of wellqualified laboratory support staff who construct and run experiments either in our fluiddynamics laboratory or on our field site. Since the equipment used is complex, the typicalmodel of a class is for the convener to design the experiment, for the support staff toexecute its construction and for the student to vary the parameters of the apparatus or toprocess the output. This model is adopted for convenience but tends to leave the studentAndrew Charlton-Perez 23
  27. 27. 7. Conclusions Problem based learning approaches in Meteorologywith little feel for how to design an experiment or the challenges of executing it. A PBLapproach whereby the student is set a problem and seeks to design and execute it withthe assistance of laboratory support staff could be an interesting variation on standardpractice.Climate ChangeAt both BSc and MSc level students are taught the science of climate change in astandard lecture based format. A module on similar material but at lower mathematicallevel is also offered more generally to Reading students. In all these contexts, anapplication of PBL could be tested. This subject is particularly suitable for a PBL approachsince a large number of high quality resources, particularly the reports by theintergovernmental panel on climate change, exist which provide scientists new to the areawith a comprehensive but easy to access introduction to current scientific understanding.A potential theme for a PBL activity would be for students to be asked to produce asynopsis of the science for a government or a large corporation, a task that many of themmay be required to do if employed as climate change consultants or by government post-degree.7.4 A proposal for an improved undergraduate final year project/dissertationAs mentioned above, I think in UK taught degree programs which are typically highlycompressed in time and content the scope for broad implementation of PBL is limited.Certainly, in Meteorology if a pure PBL approach to all learning was adopted then too littlecore content could be delivered. That said, there is certainly scope for a broaderapplication of the tools and techniques of PBL to current programs to encourage studentsto engage more fully with them and reflect on their own and other peoples work. InMeteorology, along with the two examples above, the best example of this is the currentfinal year project which forms a significant percentage of the final mark. The currentstructure of the project is:• Student selects a project during summer term offered by research staff• Student works on project during autumn term• Short presentation on project to other staff (staff assessment and feedback)• Student works on project during spring term, the majority of time being spent onpreparing a long (~30 page) document describing the project• Project supervisor reads and comments on first draft• Student submits project document (staff assessment)• Student prepares and presents a poster (peer and staff assessment)Although the current structure has some scope for reflection through staff comments onwork there is little else to offer feedback to the student or to allow them to reflect on theirown and other students work till the end of the project - by which time they are unable tomodify their own performance. To enhance the project, I propose to use some of the ideasfrom PBL to make the activity more like a real-world case and allow students much greaterfreedom to explore an area of science and provide feedback on each others work. Aproposed alternative structure for the project is:• Week 5, summer term, student selects a staff member to work with based on theirresearch interests and list of staff research interests.• Before vacation, meets with staff member to discuss some research ideas.• Week 1, autumn term, student submits one-page research proposal to researchcommittee consisting of one staff member and two student members.Andrew Charlton-Perez 24
  28. 28. 7. Conclusions Problem based learning approaches in Meteorology• Committee reads and assess proposal (10% of final mark) and provides feedback tostudent by start Week 2.• Student works on project with supervisor through autumn term.• Week 1, spring term, student submits six page ʻresearch-paperʼ to student researchjournal. Continues to work on project.• Research paper is reviewed by two anonymous student reviewers. Staff member acts aseditor and communicates essential and nonessential corrections to student by Week 5.The quality of the student review is assessed by the staff member (20% of final mark).• Student submits revised six-page research paper to journal by end of week 8. Staffmember assess research work (50% of final mark).• Student prepares poster for final poster conference. Assessed by both peer and staffassessment (20% of final mark).• All final research papers are bound into a final volume which is archived in departmentallibrary.This system would move the project closer toward the modern, real-world practice ofmeteorological science. Students would still be expected to perform an in-depth researchproject but they would have ownership of the process at all stages. They would also learnto participate in the process of constructive peer review and understand the complexitiesof a peer-review system in which opinions on work are often different and sometimeswrong. Finally, by producing a short, final document they would learn to communicate keyscientific messages and move away from simply adding all their results to a singledocument. At the end of the project, an attractive and accessible record of researchperformed by them and their peers would be available.No doubt, implementing such a major change to current practice would be challenging andwould require staff members to reconsider the aims and objectives of the project. I feelhowever, that it would also much better prepare our students for the world of work orfurther study.7.5 Reflections on course design in generalAs mentioned in my first video diary ( the processof formally redesigning the Atmospheric Science Field course has been very informativefor the course design process in general. It has been interesting to be exposed to more ofthe formal course design procedures adopted by other disciplines/universities. It is myexperience thus far in my academic career that this formal course design process is veryrarely adopted in my department or subject area. The typical process of course design inMeteorology begins with course content and produces a course design which fits aroundthis content. There is little consideration at the outset of how the overall course might bestructured or how different teaching and learning techniques might be used to improve theoverall quality of provision. Most course design is similar to the project described here, inthat the course convener will adapt a previous module and make small changes toimprove or enhance that module. The course mapping tool is particularly useful in thiscontext, since it allows a ʻbirds-eye viewʼ of the course to be developed before makingchanges. It is also useful to force oneself to consider the course from this perspective. Ihope to continue to develop courses in this fashion in future.Andrew Charlton-Perez 25
  29. 29. 8. References Problem based learning approaches in MeteorologyReferencesAtkinson, R., & Shiffrin, R., 1968, Human memory: A proposed system and its controlprocesses. In K. Spence & J. Spence (Eds.), The psychology of learning and motivation(Vol. 2, pp. 89–195). New York:Academic.Carnduff J. & Reid N., 2003, Enhancing Undergraduate Chemistry Laboratories, RoyalSociety of Chemistry, London.Conole G., 2010, D. and Feletti G. (eds.), 1997, The Challenge of Problem-Based learning, London:Kogan PageFry H., Ketteridge S. & Marshall S. (eds.), 2008, A Handbook for Teaching and Learning inHigher Education, New York: RoutledgeGibbs G., Habeshaw S. & Habeshaw T., 1988, 53 Interesting Ways to Appraise yourTeaching, Bristol: Technical and Education ServicesGijselaers, W, 1995, Perspectives on problem-based learning; pp 39-52 inGijselaers, W, Tempelaar, D, Keizer, P, Blommaert, J, Bernard, E & Kapser, H (eds)Educational Innovation in Economics and Business Administration: The Case ofProblem-Based Learning. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Hmelo-Silver C., Golan-Duncan R. and Chinn C. A., 2007, Scaffolding and Achievement inProblem-Based and Inquiry Learning: A Response to Kirschner, Sweller and Clark,Educational Psychologist, 42, 99-107Kahn P. and K. Oʼ Rouke, 2004, Guide to Curriculum Design: Enquiry Based Learning,Higher Education AcademyKirschner, P.A., Sweller, J. & Clark, R.E., 2006, Why minimal guidance during instructiondoes not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based,experiential, and inquiry based teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41, 75-86.Kolb, D.A., 1984, Experiential Learning, Prentice-Hall, New JerseyKuhn, D., 2007, Is direct instruction the answer to the right question? EducationalPsychologist, 42, 109–113.Moreland N., 2005, Work-related learning in Higher Education, Higher Education AcademyLearning and Employability series.Perkins C., Evans M., Gavin H., Johns J. & Moore J., Fieldwork and Problem basedLearning, Special edition of PLANET,, 2000, Problem-Based Learning in Higher Education: Untold Stores, OpenUniversity PressAndrew Charlton-Perez 26
  30. 30. 8. References Problem based learning approaches in MeteorologySchmidt H. G., Loyens S. M. M., van Gog T. and Paas F., 2007, Problem-Based Learningis Compatible with Human Cognitive Architecture: Commentary on Kirschner, Sweller andClark (2006), Educational Psychologist, 42, 91-97Sweller J., Kirschner P. A. and Clark R. E., 2007, Why Minimally Guided TeachingTechniques Do Not Work: A Reply to Commentaries, Educational Psychologist, 42,115-121Yorke M., 2004, Employability in Higher Education: What it is and what it is not, HIgherEducation Academy Learning and Employability Series.Andrew Charlton-Perez 27
  31. 31. 8. Appendices Problem based learning approaches in MeteorologyAppendix IDocumentation of Ozonesonde ActivityAndrew Charlton-Perez 28
  32. 32. 8. Appendices Problem based learning approaches in MeteorologyAppendix IIDocumentation for Observing System ActivityIntroductionDuring your time in Arran you had a chance to observe many different measurementtechniques and to see how they were used in an experimental setting. In this extendedessay you will now have the opportunity to use the skills you learnt in practice toproduce a design for a new climate monitoring station on Arran. You will spend this termthinking about the design and reading around the subject before submitting a design briefon Monday week 8.Aims and design briefThe UK government wants to establish a new climate monitoring station at Loch Ranza.You have been asked to submit a design specification for the station. Your designspecification should include:1. A section outlining important parameters of the climate system that should bemonitored and why.2. A section listing the equipment that would be required to measure these parameters.You should include a rough estimate of the costs of purchasing and maintaining theequipment you require.3. A section describing the particular challenges of monitoring the climate on Arran.4. A section describing how your monitoring station would contribute to overallmonitoring of UK and global climate, considering other land and satellite basedinstrumentation.5. An outline of the operational procedure at the station and how data should be analysedonce collected.While on Arran you should think about the particular challenges involved in monitoringthe climate and the equipment and techniques used to solve these challenges. You shouldalso take the opportunity to talk to the lecturers from Reading and Leeds who areinvolved in the course about their particular expertise in Atmospheric monitoring. If youfind some of the analysis you complete on Arran particularly relevant to this problemyou should take a copy of the analysis, figures or data with you for later processing inReading.Your design specification should be no longer than 15 pages and can include diagramsand tables where necessary. References should be included in standard format at the endof the document. You should make use of the range of resources (including otheracademic and research staff) available to you in Reading.Helpful contentSome ideas for helpful content are as follows.Textbooks in the Meteorology libraryAn excellent basic resource is:Measuring the atmosphere, Strangeways, 551.63Other additional backgroundMountain meteorology, Whiteman, 551.69143Andrew Charlton-Perez 29
  33. 33. 8. Appendices Problem based learning approaches in MeteorologyThe Encyclopedia of Atmospheric ScienceThere is also a large section on remote sensing under catalogue number 551.653Web-based resourcesThe webpage of the global climate observing system organisation (GCOS) whichcontains many useful reports and technical documents: Office climate monitoring page information and introduction to space-based monitoring from NASA information and introduction to space-based monitoring from ESA with interesting contentMore cutting edge information on methods for atmospheric measurement is presented inthe journals The Review of Scientific Instruments and Journal of Atmospheric andOceanic Technology. Articles are available free of charge from campus machines.It is worth also searching other journals for more specific areas of interested, but becareful to avoid a too broad search.TutorialsIn order to help you with the project, during the Autumn term we will hold three, one-hour tutorials. Please check your timetable for the time and location of these sessions.At each tutorial you should bring along the work you have already completed and sharethis with the rest of the group. We will also ask other research staff to attend andparticipate in the tutorials to give you some additional ideas about what you might wantto include in your design specification. The project is deliberately open-ended and wehope will allow you to be creative in the way that you work and in the resources you useto plan your monitoring station.DeadlineThe deadline for submission of the report is Monday November 29th (week 8 of autumnterm) and should be submitted in pdf format to the Blackboard drop box. You shouldexpect results by Monday 17th January 2011 (week 2 of spring term).Andrew Charlton-Perez 30
  34. 34. 8. Appendices Problem based learning approaches in MeteorologyAppendix IIIBlank questionnairesAndrew Charlton-Perez 31
  35. 35. 8. Appendices Problem based learning approaches in MeteorologyAppendix IVDesign of questionnaireActivity 1: Ozonesonde launches on ArranStudent questionnaireThe student questionnaire is made up of 14 questions, 12 with numerical answers (andspace for additional comments) and 2 more open ended questions. The motivation foreach question is as follows.1. Did the students have a clear sense of the problem before beginning the task. Some styles of PBL allow students to define ʻthe taskʼ themselves. In this activity this is not the intention so if instructions are not clear this could lead to valuable lost time and should be improved in future.2. Did the group format work well. An important component of PBL is the additional benefits gained from this teaching style. One of these is enhanced group working. A key part of this is the ability of the group to work efficiently on the task in hand. If this is not the case then additional help should be given to focus group efforts early on in the task.3. Did the students feel that the activity was realistic. Another important benefit of PBL is that it should simulate practitioner activities as closely as possible. It is important that the students feel the task is a realistic one in order for this benefit to be realised.4. Did the activity also fulfill a core educational purpose. Besides the generic skills gained in the activity did the students also gain subject specific knowledge. If this is not the case is PBL the best approach here?5. An important part of the motivation is encouraging students to participate in reflective observation. The aim of the oral presentations is to do this by comparing their own and other students work. Did the activity achieve this?6. & 7. These questions explore how students formed their knowledge base to produce the proposal. Our aim is that not all the information is contained within the text and that the students will use other resources including staff to complete the task.8. Staff should act as facilitators for each group rather than driving the discussion. Did the students feel this was the case?9. This question also assess the ability of the activity to encourage reflective observation in the students. Did they feel that the comparison with other students work, required for the assessment was worthwhile?10. Having done some reflective observation can the students now link their thoughts back to the beginning of the Kolb learning cycle and have a different abstract conceptualization of how to approach the task?11. Did the activity overall improve the students knowledge of atmospheric chemistry or not?12. Since there will always be multiple approaches to measuring the atmosphere, if the students are genuinely linking their reflective observation back to more abstract conceptualization I would expect them to disagree with this statement. If a majority agree, then the activity would require additional elements to encourage this link.13. Are the students aware of the approach to teaching they experience? This may influence how they react to the teaching method. It may be useful to make the approach clear at the start of the activity.14. This question encourages the students to give more general comments about the PBL approach which may identify issues not consider in the rest of the questionnaire.Staff questionnaireAlmost all the questions in the staff questionnaire replicate questions in the studentquestionnaire. The aim of the staff questionnaire is to assess if the impressions of studentsmatched those of the staff. The only difference is in questions 11 & 12. Here in the staffAndrew Charlton-Perez 32
  36. 36. 8. Appendices Problem based learning approaches in Meteorologyquestionnaire the aim is to determine which sets of skills staff believe the activitypromoted, subject specific, general scientific or both.Activity 2: A design specification for a new climate observing stationStudent questionnaire1.-8. The first part of the questionnaire repeats the questions from activity one. The aim isto be able to compare students impressions of the two activities.9. Did students feel that the longer more considered approach adopted in activity 2 benefited their learning or were the time-constraints imposed in activity 1 beneficial?10.Did the team working aspect in activity 1 enhance the PBL approach or not?11. As in activity 1, did the PBL approach also contribute to enhanced subject specific understanding.12. For this activity in particular, did the students feel that it extended their knowledge and was at the higher, masters-level in comparison to the activities in the rest of the field course. It is useful to assess if the PBL aspect here is important.13. & 14. The students who will take both courses will be able to give a broad impression of their feel for PBL within Meteorology and suggest how widely it might be used.Staff questionnaireThis questionnaire is designed to be very similar to the staff questionnaire for activity 1.The aim of the evaluation here is to compare and contrast the impressions of staffassisting with each activity to determine the positive and negative aspects of the twomethods of PBL introduced into the course.Andrew Charlton-Perez 33