Learning and Teaching

In addition to my own teaching in oceanography, I lead workshops and do consulting on topics related to teaching and learning at university level. That means that I am constantly learning new things, and sometimes I blog about them. Usually I summarise articles, podcast episodes or conversations I found useful, post new slides I create, or share methods that I saw, heard about, or tried myself.

For all of you who don’t fancy wading though wave watching and kitchen oceanography blog posts in search of those posts on teaching and learning in higher education, here is an overview!

(Sorry about the format that looks like “oh are we fancy on the Internet! It’s 1991 after all!”)

  • #Methods2Go: Methods for “arriving” in class, i.e. getting to know people & raising interest
    Remember my recent #Methods2Go blog posts, inspired by E.-M. Schumacher’s “Methoden to go”? There is more! She kindly sent me the new “Methoden 2 go online!“* — bringing us tons of methods that are adapted for online use! *this is not a sponsored post, all opinions are my own This set of flashcards is structured in […]
  • “Things I wanted to say but didn’t get the chance…”: A method to include missing voices!
    I’m currently leading another virtual 3-day workshop on “introduction to university teaching”, and yesterday I left a prompt on the shared slide deck we are working on, “Things I wanted to say but didn’t get the chance…”, for participants to react to when they gave me the continue, start, stop feedback on that day. As I […]
  • #Methods2Go: methods to end lessons with in university teaching
    Another method idea from E.-M. Schumacher’s “Methoden to go” pool of suggestions! Today: a method to end a lesson with. Cheat sheet I’m pretty confident that anyone who has ever written a really good cheat sheet will not actually need it to cheat with later on. Putting together all the relevant information is a condensed […]
  • Our presentation at #FieldWorkFix: “An interactive mobile adventure on coastal protection”
    This summer I had a fun little side project: I was co-supervising a Bachelor thesis in geography at Kiel University! Janina Dreeßen, with Katja Kuhwald as her main supervisor, did an excellent job, and I am presenting her work at the #FieldWorkFix conference today. If you can’t join later, here are my slides and what […]
  • #Methods2Go: Methods to secure results in university teaching
    More method ideas from E.-M. Schumacher’s “Methoden to go” pool of suggestions! Today: methods to secure results. Learning walk I’ve been using plenty of virtual “gallery walkes” recently, where students have worked on a joint google slides document (either each on their own slide, or each group on their own slide) and we then go […]
  • #Methods2Go: methods to facilitate knowledge application in university teaching
    Another method idea from E.-M. Schumacher’s “Methoden to go” pool of suggestions! Today: a method to apply knowledge. Application cards I really like the idea behind “application cards”: the teacher writes a theory, technical term or other important keyword on one side of flashcards, students then come up with an application, a concrete example or […]
  • #Methods2Go: methods to facilitate discussion in university teaching
    More method ideas from E.-M. Schumacher’s “Methoden to go” pool of suggestions! Today: methods to discuss content. Amplifier The idea of using an “amplifier” is really simple: after a mini lecture, students are asked to write questions on what they just heard on a piece of paper and hand it to a “lead-learner” or “amplifier”, […]
  • #Methods2Go: university teaching methods for acquring knowledge
    More method ideas from E.-M. Schumacher’s “Methoden to go” pool of suggestions! Today: methods to acquire knowledge. Learning-speed duo The “learning-speed duo” method works like this: The group is split into two, and everybody in each of the two sub-group gets the same text to read (or exercise to work on) individually. When people finish […]
  • When flying turns out to not be essential for academia (after Jack & Glover, 2021)
    Yesterday morning on Twitter, I saw this quote: “The sudden grounding of academics has demonstrated that air travel ‒ previously deemed a necessary part of a successful academic career and university internationalization ‒ was not in fact essential.”. This, naturally, led me directly to the original article on “Online conferencing in the midst of COVID-19: […]
  • #Methods2Go: Ideas for starting off your university classes (inspired by EM Schumacher’s work)
    “Methoden to go” by E.-M. Schumacher, which you see in the picture above, is a handy collection of well- and less-well-known methods for university teaching, organised by the six different phases of a typical session (getting into a topic, learning about a topic, discussing it, applying knowledge, securing results, and ending a lesson). It’s a collection […]
  • Enacting frames of reference in geoscience education? (After Rollinde, Decamp and Derniaux, 2021)
    I just read a super interesting article by Rollinde, Decamp ad Derniaux (2021) on “Should frames of reference be enacted in astronomy instruction?”. Frames of reference are an important concept in the geosciences, and one that is difficult to grasp as we’ve noticed when teaching about Coriolis force and how trajectories look differently depending on […]
  • Teaching inspiration dispenser
    I just had this fun (I think) idea of a “teaching inspiration dispenser” for faculty development (inspired by Laura’s Instagram post on her experience with a @shortedition kiosk): I basically want a receipt printer, located somewhere centrally on campus, that gives out small pieces of paper with teaching inspiration or tips when people press a button. It […]
  • Negotiating a rubric of learning outcomes and letting students pick the format in which they show they’ve mastered the learning outcomes
    I’m still inspired by Cathy’s work on “co-creation”, and an episode of “Lecture Breakers” (I think the first one on student engagement techniques where they talked about letting students choose the format of the artefact they do for assessment purposes; but I binge-listened, and honestly, they are all inspiring!). And something that Sam recently said […]
  • Co-creating learning and teaching (Bovill, 2020)
    Maybe it was because of the contexts in which I encountered it, but I always perceived “co-creation” as an empty buzzword without any actionable substance to it. I have only really started seeing the huge potential and getting excited about it since I met Catherine Bovill. Cathy and I are colleagues in the Center for […]
  • Pick a role and write a lecture summary from that perspective. Does that sound motivating?
    Kjersti and I have been talking about asking students to take turns and write summaries of lectures throughout the whole semester. We would then give feedback on them to make sure we get a final result that is correct (and that the student learns something, obviously). The summaries are then collected into a booklet that […]
  • The learning styles myth (based on Pashler et al., 2008; Nancekivell et al., 2020)
    One idea that I encounter a lot in higher education workshops is the idea of learning styles: that some people are “visual learners” that learn best by looking at visual representations of information, and other people that learn best from reading, or from listening to lectures, and that those are traits we are born with. […]
  • Building gender equity in the academy (Laursen & Austin, 2020)
    After being “invited” to do some service work because someone noticed “that there was nobody on the committee without a beard” (gee, thanks for making me feel like you appreciate my qualifications!), and then the next day feeling all kinds of stereotype threats triggered in a video call where I noticed I was the only […]
  • Why it’s important to use students’ names, and how to make it easy: use name tents! (After Cooper et al., 2017)
    One thing I really enjoy about teaching virtually is that it is really easy to address everybody by their names with confidence, since their names are always right there, right below their faces. But that really does not have to end once we are back in lecture theatres again, because even in large classes, we […]
  • A tool to understand students’ previous experience and adapt your practical courses accordingly — by Kirsty Dunnett
    Last week, I wrote about increasing inquiry in lab-based courses and mentioned that it was Kirsty who had inspired me to think about this in a new-to-me way. For several years, Kirsty has been working on developing practical work, and a central part of that has been finding out the types and amount of experiences incoming students […]
  • Increasing inquiry in lab courses (inspired by @ks_dnnt and Buck et al., 2008)
    My new Twitter friend Kirsty, my old GFI-friend Kjersti and I have been discussing teaching in laboratories. Kirsty recommended an article (well, she did recommend many, but one that I’ve read and since been thinking about) by Buck et al. (2008) on “Characterizing the level of inquiry in the undergraduate laboratory”. In the article, they […]
  • “Wonder questions” and geoscience misconceptions.
    Recently, as part of the CHESS/iEarth Summer School, Kikki Kleiven lead a workshop on geoscience teaching. She gave a great overview over how to approach teaching and presented many engaging methods (like, for example, concept cartoons and role plays), but two things especially sparked my interest, so that I read up on them a little […]
  • Why should students want engage in something that changes their identity as well as their view of themselves in relation to friends and family?
    Another iEarth Teaching Conversation with Kjersti Daae and Torgny Roxå, summarized by Mirjam Glessmer “Transformative experiences” (Pugh et al., 2010) are those experiences that change the way a person looks at the world, so that they henceforth voluntarily engage in a new-to-them practice of sensemaking on this new topic, and perceive it as valuable. There are […]
  • #WaveWatching as “transformative experience”? (Based on articles by Pugh et al. 2019, 2011, 2010)
    I was reading an article on “active learning” by Lombardi et al. (2021), when the sentence “In undergraduate geoscience, Pugh et al. (2019) found that students who made observations of the world and recognized how they might be explained by concepts from their classes were more likely to stay in their major than those who […]
  • Follow-up on the iEarth teaching conversation: Why cognitive apprenticeship?
    One question came up after I had written up my one-pager on the iEarth “teaching conversation”: Why “cognitive apprenticeship”? Over the years, I made a couple of observations across several universities in three countries: Students learn a lot of factual, conceptual and formalized procedural knowledge, working mainly on textbook data and problems. They often have […]
  • An iEarth teaching conversation with Kjersti Daae and Torgny Roxå on #WaveWatching
    iEarth is currently establishing the new-to-me format of “teaching conversations”, where two or more people meet to discuss specific aspects of one person’s teaching in a “critical friend” setting. Obviously I volunteered to be grilled, and despite me trying to suggest other topics, too (like the active lunch break and the “nerd topic” intro in a […]
  • Using an active lunch break to see the world through our subject area’s lens and to reconnect us to what fascinates and motivates us
    I often teach faculty development workshops at Kiel University. Since we have been in remote teaching mode almost exclusively since March 2020, dealing with virtual classes is a pressing subject – both for the faculty who attend my workshops, but also for myself as I have to present best practice examples of leading fully-virtual all-day […]
  • The “lightning storm in the chat” method
    In a workshop I led recently, a participant helped me gain a new perspective on an old method: the “lightning storm in the chat” (my best attempt at translating “Chatgewitter” to English. No idea what the name of the method is in English). The idea is simple: You ask a question, people type their responses […]
  • What does “sensemaking” really mean in the context of learning about science? (Reading Odden & Russ, 2019)
    I read the article “Defining sensemaking: Bringing clarity to a fragmented theoretical construct” by Odden and Russ (2019) and what I loved about the article are two main things: I realized that “sensemaking” is the name of an activity I immensely enjoy under certain conditions, and being able to put words to that activity made me […]
  • My two favourite methods for re-activating and re-focussing workshop participants
    I have always hated workshops where you had to do “active stuff”, moving around to music and the like, because the facilitator wanted to “get everybody active!”. But recently I’ve come to appreciate the value in that (better late than never, right?). So what I occasionally do these days, sometimes after a break or when […]
  • Asking for the “nerd topic” when introducing workshop participants to each other to foster self-disclosure to create community
    I am currently teaching a lot of workshops on higher education topics where participants (who previously didn’t know each other, or me) spend 1-1.5 days talking about topics that can feel emotional and intimate and where I want to create an environment that is open and full of trust, and where connections form that last […]
  • My 3 favourite podcasts on university teaching
    Thanks to Corona and my minimum of 10k steps a day, I now have a good hour every day that I increasingly often use not to quietly ponder my surroundings or catch up with friends in a phone call, but listen to podcasts. I am very selective about what I want to listen to, but […]
  • “Invisible learning” by David Franklin
    Several things happened today. I had a lovely time reading in the hammock I tried to kill two birds with one stone (figuratively of course): writing a blog post about the book I read (which I really loved) and try a new-to-me format of Instagram posts: A caroussel, where one post slides into the next […]
  • Metaphors of learning (after Ivar Nordmo and the article by Sfard, 1998)
    On Thursday, I attended a workshop by Ivar Nordmo, in which he talked about two metaphors of learning: “learning as acquisition” and “learning as participation”. He referred to an article by Sfard (1998), and here is my take-away from the combination of both. When we talk about new (or new-to-us) concepts, we often describe them […]
  • Student evaluations of teaching are biased, sexist, racist, predjudiced. My summary of Heffernan’s 2021 article
    One of my pet peeves are student evaluations that are interpreted way beyond what they can actually tell us. It might be people not considering sample sizes when looking at statistics (“66,6% of students hated your class!”, “Yes, 2 out of 3 responses out of 20 students said something negative”), or not understanding that student […]
  • An overview over what we know about what works in university teaching (based on Schneider & Preckel, 2017)
    I’ve been leading a lot of workshops and doing consulting on university teaching lately, and one request that comes up over and over again is “just tell me what works!”. Here I am presenting an article that is probably the best place to start. The famous “visible learning” study by Hattie (2009) compiled pretty much […]
  • Why students cheat (after Brimble, 2016)
    Recently, one topic seemed to emerge a lot in conversations I’ve been having: Students cheating, or the fear thereof. Cheating is “easier” when exams are written online and we don’t have students directly under our noses, and to instructors it feels like cheating has increased a lot (and maybe it has!). We’ve discussed all kinds […]
  • Published in Oceanography: How to Teach Motivating and Hands-On Laboratory and Field Courses in a Virtual Setting
    One of the few “behind the scenes” shots of me taking #WaveWatching pictures! See the super awesome current right at my feet? :-D⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Similar to kitchen oceanography, I believe that wave watching is a great tool in education and outreach, especially during times where activites have to be socially distant. My article “How to […]
  • Mind-set interventions
    Two years ago, I was really into daily writing in my bullet journal. I used it to plan out my day, week, month, year, but also to set goals and reflect on how I was doing achieving them. During that year I felt really efficient, accomplished, capable, and it definitely felt related to all that […]
  • Even though students in the active classroom learn more, they feel like they learn less
    If you’ve been trying to actively engage students in your classes, I am sure you’ve felt at least some level of resistance. Even though we know from literature (e.g. Freeman et al., 2014) that active learning increases student performance, it’s sometimes difficult to convince students that we are asking them to do all the activities […]
  • Teaching field courses in a virtual setting
    For many people it has been (and still is!) a huge hassle to quickly figure out ways to teach field courses in a covid-19 world, and I can relate so much! But I’m also getting more and more excited about the possibilities that are opening up when we think about fieldwork in a new way. […]
  • Instructional videos in a nutshell
    I am completely in love with my new tablet. I love drawing on it and even though the results are not quite up to my standards yet, I am too excited to not share. So here I drew what (I think) you need to know about instructional videos, in a nutshell: They should be short! […]
  • Asking questions that aim at specific levels of the modified Bloom’s taxonomy
    I’m currently preparing a couple of workshops on higher education topics, and of course it is always important to talk about learning outcomes. I had a faint memory of having developed some materials (when still working at ZLL together with one of my all time favourite colleagues, Timo Lüth) to help instructors work with the […]
  • #TeachingTuesday: Student feedback and how to interpret it in order to improve teaching
    Student feedback has become a fixture in higher education. But even though it is important to hear student voices when evaluating teaching and thinking of ways to improve it, students aren’t perfect judges of what type of teaching leads to the most learning, so their feedback should not be taken onboard without critical reflection. In […]
  • #TeachingTuesday: Some things I read about making good lecture videos
    Just imagine you had written an article on “Student Satisfaction and Learning Outcomes in Asynchronous Online Lecture Videos”, like Choe et al. (2019) did. What excellent timing to inform teaching decisions all around the world! Choe et al. compare 8 different video styles (all of which can be watched as supplementary material to the article […]
  • “Excursion week” in Oceanography 101 while physically distancing
    My friend’s university recently decided that “excursion week” (a week in May during which there are no lectures or exercises or anything happening at university to make time for field courses during the semester) is cancelled this year. Which is, of course, not surprising given the current situation, but it isn’t cancelled as in “go […]
  • Anna is answering questions on our Nature article at #ShareEGU20
    It feels like an enourmously long time ago that our article on “ice front blocking of ocean heat transport to an Antarctic ice shelf” got published in Nature, but it was in fact only a little more than two months ago. Only right after, life changed so drastically that it feels as if it’s been […]
  • Using campsites for scicomm
    Last summer at the Science in Public conference in Manchester, I heard a talk by Anna Woolman on science communication in campsites. It stuck with me as a really good idea. Now I came across the recent article by Woolman (2020) on that study that I found so inspiring, so here are my thoughts on it for […]
  • Our Nature article in 20 tweets
    (Not true, there were 22 tweets, but apparently I can’t count! :-D) For those of you that don’t follow my Twitter, here is what I posted over there the day our Nature paper got published: Published online in @Nature today: “Ice front blocking of ocean heat transport to an Antarctic ice shelf” by @a_wahlin @nadsteiger […]
  • Playing in a 13-m-diameter pool on a merry-go-round results in Nature article
    A long, long time ago (ok, in fall of 2017) I got the chance to join Elin Darelius and Anna Wåhlin’s team for a measuring campaign at the Coriolis platform in Grenoble for several weeks. I was there officially in an outreach officer-like role: To write and tweet about the experiments, conduct “ask me anything” […]
  • #SciCommSunday: The reason why I choose to post selfies on my #SciComm Social Media
    “I don’t want my face on the internet!”, “My science should speak for itself, it shouldn’t matter who I am as a person!”, “I just don’t like what I look like in pictures!”, “People won’t perceive me as professional when I include selfies in my science communication work!”: There are many reasons for not posting […]
  • Fastest way to read up on the science of science communication? This book!
    (Werbung ohne Auftrag // This blogpost is not sponsored) I strongly believe that all scicomm efforts should be grounded in the science of science communication. That means reading a lot of original literature, or … reading this book that I recently found. It’s a quick and fun overview over the current understanding of what works […]
  • New #WaveWatching series happening over on Elin’s blog: #BergenWaveWatching!
    Kjersti, Steffi, Elin and I recently discussed ways to better integrate the GEOF105 student cruise into the course. Right now,  even though students write a report about their work on the student cruise, it’s pretty much a one-off event with little connection to what happens before and after, which is a pity. Having a whole research […]
  • Guest posts, take-overs, interviews, and why I love them
    Guest posts, take-overs and interviews are a great alternative to maintaining social media channels for every scientist / project / institution individually, if that isn’t what you want to be doing (or — as in my case — a great addition) As I am preparing a workshop on online science communication, I have been thinking […]
  • If one rotating table is awesome, four rotating tables are…?
    I’m actually at a loss for words. Amazing? Spectacular? So much fun? All of that! Today was the first time Torge and I tried our four DIYnamics-inspired rotating tables in teaching. (Remember? We want to use 4 rotating tables simultaneously so students can work in small groups rather than watching us present experiments, and also […]
  • Melting ice cubes experiment published in kids’ journal Frontiers Young Minds
    On publishing in a journal peer-reviewed by kids, and suggesting it as a first journal new PhD students should be asked to write for You guys might remember my favourite experiment with the ice cubes melting in freshwater and saltwater. This experiment can be used for almost any teaching purpose (Introduction to experimenting? Check! Thermohaline […]
  • My kids’ article on the formation of sea ice is out!
    I recently published an article about how sea ice forms which, I think, turned out pretty well. But the coolest thing is the illustration that Jessie Miller did to go along with the article: Seeing this illustration (and, of course, having the article published) was a super nice surprise during the busy run-up to my big event, […]
  • Supporting conceptual understanding of the Coriolis force through laboratory experiments
    My friend Pierré and I started working on this article when both of us were still working at the Geophysical Institute in Bergen. It took forever to get published, mainly because both of us had moved on to different jobs with other foci, so maybe it’s not a big deal that it took me over […]
  • Of timeless relevance: the ESWN mentoring map and how you can provide mentoring to others at any career stage
    This week I had the honor to be invited to give a talk to a network of PhD students of the three Leibniz institutes in Kiel, which is just forming. Being as big a fan of networking as I am, of course I could not say no to this opportunity, especially since I had a […]
  • Need your help! “Wish list” for a student lab for tank experiments?
    I’d love your input: If your student lab for GFD tank experiments had to downsize, but you had to present a “wish list” for a smaller replacement, what would be on that list? Below are my considerations, but I would be super grateful for any additional input or comments! :-) Background and “boundary conditions” The […]
  • “Continue. Start. Stop.”. An article supporting the usefulness of my favourite method of asking for student feedback on a course!
    I’ve been recommending the “Continue. Start. Stop.” feedback method for years an years (at least since my 2013 blog post), but not as a research-backed method but mostly based on my positive personal experience with it. I have used this method to get feedback on courses I’ve been teaching a couple of weeks into the […]
  • Communicating Climate Change — a book you should definitely know about!
    In a presentation about science communication I gave on Monday, I recommended a couple of resources for scientists interested in science communication. For example the amazing climatevisuals.org for advice on which images to use to communicate about climate change (plus lots of images that even come with explanations for what purpose they work well, and why!). And […]
  • Taking ownership of your own mentoring
    Have you ever had questions related to your career development that you didn’t know who to ask for answers for? Or have you ever felt that you would probably profit from having a mentor, but didn’t know who that mentor could be? Or do you have a great mentor but wonder whether you might be […]
  • Enabling backchannel communication between a lecturer and a large group
    Using technology to enable active engagement with content in a large lecture. In 2014, I presented the paper “Enabling backchannel communication between a lecturer and a large group” at the SEFI conference in Birmingham. That paper is based on work that I have done with two colleagues – the instructor of a large lecture, and the […]
  • Outreach activity: How do we make climate predictions?
    This text was written for GeoEd, the education column of EGU’s blog, and first appeared there on Nov 27th, 2015. — In my second year studying physical oceanography, I got a student job in an ocean modelling group. When I excitedly told my friends and family about said job, most of them did not have the slightest […]
  • Four steps to great hands-on outreach experiences
    Part 1 and 2 of this post were first posted on the EGU’s blog on Jan 29, 2016, and Feb 29, 2016, respectively. Part 1 gives four steps to outreach activities, part 2 uses an example to further illustrate those four steps. Part 1: For the best hands-on outreach experiences, just provide opportunities for playing! […]
  • Experiment: Demystifying the Coriolis force
    Mirjam S. Glessmer & Pierré D. de Wet Abstract Even though experiments – whether demonstrated to, or personally performed by students – have been part of training in STEM for a long time, their effectiveness as an educational tool are sometimes questioned. For, despite students’ ability to produce correct answers to standard questions regarding these […]
  • A tool for planning online teaching units
    Nicole Podleschny & Mirjam Glessmer, 2015 In our recent workshop on “supporting self-organized learning with online media”, Nicole Podleschny and I came up with a morphological box to help plan online teaching units. The morphological box is basically a list of criteria that we thought might be relevant, and then we suggest different values for each of the criteria […]
  • Using art in your science teaching and outreach. The why and the how.
    This post was first published at the EGU’s blog’s “educational corner” GeoEd, in March 2016 (link here). — Sometimes we look for new ways to engage our students or the general public in discussions about our science. Today I would like to suggest we use art! Someone recently told me about her work on “STEAM”, […]
  • Experiment: Ice cubes melting in fresh water and salt water
    Explore how melting of ice cubes floating in water is influenced by the salinity of the water. Important oceanographic concepts like density and density driven currents are visualized and can be discussed on the basis of this experiment. Context Audience This hands-on experiment is suited for many different audiences and can be used to achieve a wealth […]
  • Asking students to take pictures to help them connect theory to the reality of their everyday lives
    — This post was written for “Teaching in the Academy” in Israel, where it was published in Hebrew! Link here. — Many times students fail to see the real-life relevance of what they are supposed to be learning at university. But there is an easy way to help them make the connection: Ask them to take […]
  • “Laboratory layered latte” – combining latte and double diffusion. Easily my favourite paper ever!
    My friends know me well. Especially A&I, which was proven again when they sent me the link to an article about two things that I am mildly obsessed with: Latte and double-diffusive mixing. My obsession with latte is a fairly recent thing, but I have been known to blog about interesting convection pattern in it […]
  • Some things are better left unseen — research shows that watching yourself in a video meeting is not a good thing
    I’m a big fan of virtual meetings: For planning outreach activities taking place in France with a team in Norway while sitting in my office in Germany (see here, and definitely check out the product of that planning meeting, Elin Darelius’ & Team’s blog from a 13-m-diameter rotating tank!), when giving a lecture in Iceland from […]
  • Response of the ACC to climate change #scipoem
    The response of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current to recent climate change* Around and around the southern pole The Antarctic Circumpolar Current, inspiring Around and around the southern pole Seemingly without a goal Going east, east, east, untiring East, east, east, admiring! Around and around the southern pole Around and around the southern pole To “the […]
  • #scipoem on an Darelius et al. article about ice shelves
    “Observed vulnerability of Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf to wind-driven inflow of warm deep water”* Let’s talk ab’t a favourite paper “Observed vulnerability of Filchner- Ronne Ice Shelf to wind-driven inflow of wa(-a-a-a-a)rm deep water” An ice shelf is ice that is floating on top of the sea as it’s flowing down from a continent this one […]
  • Tale of arctic melting and deep water formation #scipoem
    Tale of arctic melting and deep water formation Freshwater freezes long before saltwater does, and it also floats on top of saltwater. In the Nordic Seas, deep waters are formed. If there is a lot of freshwater, less deep water can be formed. The sea freezes over. Ice then insulates, prevents heat flux, shutting down […]
  • A #scipoem on upwelling of tropical OMZ waters in a warmer climate
    “Simulated reduction in upwelling of tropical oxygen minimum waters in a warmer climate”* Let’s pick apart this article’s title, inaccessible to most people out there. Even though we know it as vital to communicate clearly, be able to share, what goes on in iv’ry towers detrital, to whom it is relevant, as well as where. […]
  • Double the trouble — a poem about double-diffusive mixing in the ocean
    On my blog’s fourth Birthday (!!!), it’s time to try something new. How about some celebratory oceanographic poetry? Obviously the topic has to be my oceanic pet process, double-diffusive mixing…   Double the trouble Heat mixes by molecules bumping into each other and clunking momentum transfers so fast it all blurs the warmer the faster […]
  • I am missing institute seminars! Or: Why we should talk to people who use different methods
    You probably know that I have recently changed my research focus quite dramatically, from physical oceanography to science communication research. What that means is that I am a total newbie (well, not total any more, but still on a very steep learning curve), and that I really appreciate listening to talks from a broad range of […]
  • How to make your science meaningful and accessible to any audience
    Are you hesitant to do outreach because you don’t really know how to convey your message to an audience that isn’t as fascinated by your field as you are and doesn’t have at least some background knowledge? Then here is a tool that will help you make your science meaningful and accessible to any audience! First: There is a need for […]
  • What you know about science is not necessarily what you believe about science
    I’ve been working in science communication research for a good half a year now, and my views on outreach are constantly evolving. When I applied for this job, I was convinced that if only the public knew what we (the scientists) know, they would take better decisions. So all we need to do is inform […]
  • Reflections on reflections
    When we think about reflections in water, we usually think of calm lakes and trees on the shore opposite to us. Or clouds. Or at least that’s what I think of: Everything is so far away, that it seems to be reflected at an axis that is a horizontal line far away from us. Then the […]
  • Outreach is about more than about the perfect presentation (or even the perfect hands-on tank experiment!)
    In most of my blog posts on outreach I focus on how to run the _perfect_ experiment. And while I still think that’s awesome, I recently read an article by Johanna Varner (“Scientific Outreach: Toward Effective Public Engagement with Biological Science”, 2014) that made a lot of points that I have definitely not stressed enough […]
  • You learn better when you explain to yourself
    I just read a really interesting article on explaining to yourself as a mechanism for learning by Tania Lombrozo. We have talked about peer instruction being valuable because explaining to others helps both the “others” and the explainer, and it’s really common to hear student tutors say that they only understood something really well when they had […]
  • You learn better when you think that you will have to teach
    Have you ever worked as student tutor? Then you’ve probably felt like you understood the content of the course you tutored a million times better after tutoring it. Or at least that’s what I hear over and over again: People feel like they understood a topic. Then they prepare to teach it, and realise how […]
  • How you can bring students into the right mindset and get them curious about your topic before your class even starts.
    How you can bring students into the right mindset and get them curious about your topic before your class even starts. Do you remember the awkward feeling when you sit in class a couple of minutes before class starts, the instructor is nervously shuffling some papers, students fill the room but there is an awkward silence […]
  • Ask your students to take a picture to help them connect theoretical lecture content to the reality of their everyday life
    “Ask your students to take a picture to help them connect theoretical lecture content to the reality of their everyday life”! This is the title of a post I wrote for an issue on current technologies and their integration into teaching of the journal “Teaching in the Academy” that is being distributed to everybody who […]
  • How to know for sure whether a teaching intervention actually improved things
    How do we measure whether teaching interventions really do what they are supposed to be doing? (Spoiler alert: In this post, I won’t actually give a definite answer to that question, I am only talking about a paper I read that I found very helpful, and reflecting on a couple of ideas I am currently […]
  • How to learn most efficiently when participating in a MOOC
    How to learn most efficiently when participating in a MOOC? Yes, I’ll admit, that title promises quite a lot. But there is a new article by Yong and Lim (2016) called “Observing the Testing Effect using Coursera Video-Recorded Lectures” that tells us a lot about how (not) to learn. We have talked about the testing effect […]
  • How your behavior as an instructor influences how your students behave during peer instruction phases
    It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you that how you behave as an instructor influences how your students work during peer instruction phases. But do you know what you can do to make sure that student discussions are reaching the level of critical thinking that you want? I.e., how do you construct classroom […]
  • How your students might be hurting themselves by skipping classes
    Mandatory attendance is seldomly done in german higher education. The system relies on a series of examinations, and whoever passes those get the degree, no matter how much or how little time they have spent inside university buildings*. At the same time, there is a push for mandatory attendance because people feel that only if they force students […]
  • Why you should shuffle practice problems rather than blocking them
    We like to get into the flow when practicing something, and we like to have our students concentrate on one particular type of problem at a time until they have mastered it, before moving on to the next. But is that really the best way of learning? Spoiler alert: It is not! In a 2014 […]
  • Using twitter as a tool to let students discover that the topics of their courses are EVERYWHERE
    This is a method that I have been excited about ever since learning about #birdclass in the “Evidence-based undergraduate STEM teaching” MOOC last year: Help students discover that the content of your class is not restricted to your class, but actually occurs everywhere! All the time! In their own lives! The idea is that students take […]
  • Student poster presentations: the cheap and easy way
    Sometimes we really want our students to practice presenting posters, but we can’t afford printing all those nice A0-posters for everybody in our large class, or we don’t want them spending time on design but focus on content, or both. What then? Well, instead of having them design A0 posters, just give them a template […]
  • The Marshmallow Challenge
    My colleague Caroline and I recently ran a training course for student tutors and we started it out with the Marshmallow Challenge, that Siska had suggested, both as an ice breaker, team building task and to have participants gain experiences together that we could refer to later on during the workshop. So, Marshmallow Challenge. Except […]
  • How to support group processes as a tutor
    In my last post, I talked about a model for stages of group development. Today I want to talk about how you can use this model when you are trying to make a group work together well. First, it is important to recognize that every team will go through most of the phases. Except for the […]
  • Does multitasking hurt learning? Show ’em!
    I am reading the “Faculty Focus” mailing list, and a side-note in one of their recent posts, “Why policies fail to promote better learning decisions” by Lolita Paff, really struck a chord with me. The article is about how to modify policies (like no screens! compulsory attendance! etc) to help students understand why behaving in […]
  • Preparing my workshop on how learning works
    As you know, I’m preparing a workshop for teaching assistants in mechanical engineering at Dresden University of Technology. And even though I’ve given similar workshops successfully more than once before, it somehow happened that I changed my plan a bit here, and then changed a bit there, and am now constructing the whole workshop from scratch. […]
  • And even more on motivation
    Last week we talked about motivation quite a bit: First about why do students engage in academic tasks?, then about how motivation is proportional to the expectation of achieving a goal. Today I want to bring it all together a bit more, by presenting two other theories (both also described in the Torres-Ayala and Herman […]
  • Motivation proportional to the expectation of achieving a goal?
    In the last post I talked about a paper on “Motivating Learners: A Primer for Engineering Teaching Assistants” by Torres-Ayala and Herman (2012). Today, I want to present a different motivation theory, also described in that paper: Attribution theory Attribution theory basically says that motivation is proportional to the expectation of achieving a goal. Three […]
  • Motivation: dangle a carrot rather than threaten with a whip!
    Why do students engage in academic tasks? Next week I am giving a workshop on teaching large classes at TU Dresden. I gave a similar workshop there in spring, but because of its success I’ve been given twice as much time this time around. So there is a lot of exciting content that I can […]

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