Below, Kirsty is discussing how it can potentially discourage efforts to improve teaching and teachers when we focus on the strength of evidence too much, and don’t value the developmental process itself enough. Definitely worth reading! :-)
Kirsty sent me this super interesting text with a vision of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) being a collective enterprise, rather than a mostly individual one. I love the vision and am excited to repost below!
Another guest post by Kirsty Dunnett about the difficulty of applying skills from a maths course in the context of geoscience courses, and what can be done to make it easier. Thanks for writing, Kirsty :-)
Who are you travelling with? A guest post by Kirsty Dunnett.
A summary and some thoughts on:
Supporting students in higher education: proposal for a theoretical framework
By J.-M. De Ketele (Université de Louvain, Belgium)
Chris Bore is one of the most loyal readers of my blog and has been for a long time, and now he wrote a beautiful post about #WaveWatching over on his own blog, and gave me permission to repost here. Thank you for loving #WaveWatching as much as I do, Chris!
A few years back I found oceanographer Mirjam Glessmer’s blog ‘Wave Watching’:
which is just what it says: a fascinating and insightful blog about watching waves – and what we can learn from doing so, not only about waves but about what they traversed, reflected off, diffracted around, broke over…
It spoke to me particularly because I was then watching waves almost obsessively: ripples on puddles, waves on our local lake, splashes from moorhens and coots and ducks on the canal; sea waves, coastal waves, every kind of wave. I wouldn’t quite say it risked losing me friends but people certainly got used to walking on and eventually looking back surprised to see me stopped staring at some interesting wave phenomenon. Continue reading
I got permission to publish Kjersti Daae‘s iEarth conversation on teaching (with Torgny Roxå and myself in April 2021) on my blog! Thanks, Kjersti :-) Here we go:
I teach in an introductory course in meteorology and oceanography (GEOF105) at the geophysical institute, UiB. The students come from two different study programs:
Most students do the course in their third semester. They have not yet learned all the mathematics necessary to dive into the derivation of equations governing the ocean processes. Therefore, we focus on conceptual knowledge and understand the governing ideas regarding central ocean processes, such as global circulation and the influence of Earth’s rotation and wind on the ocean currents. The students need to learn how to describe the various processes and mechanisms included in the curriculum. I, therefore, use voting cards to promote student discussions during lectures.
I first heard about voting cards from Mirjam’s blog “Adventures in Oceanography and Teaching”. The method is relatively simple. You pose a question with four alternatives A,B,C,D, accompanied by different colours for easy recognition. The students have a printout each with the four letters on it.They spend a few minutes thinking about the question and prepare their answer. Then they fold their paper so that only one letter/colour shows, and hold it up and provide direct feedback to the teacher. The questions can, among others, be used to checking if the students understand a concept or let the students guess the outcome of something they haven’t learned yet.
However, I prefer to use voting cards to promote discussions among peers. This procedure is following the Think-pair-share method developed by Lyman (1981). By carefully selecting alternative answers, I can make it hard for the students to choose the correct answer, or the answers can be formulated so that the students can argue for more than one correct answer. When the students hold up their answers, they can look around at the other students’ responses and find someone with a different response than themselves. Then they can pair up and discuss why they answer differently and see if they can agree on one common answer before sharing their opinion with the rest of the class. During this exercise, the students practice talking about science and arguing for various answers/outcomes based on the voting cards’ questions.The exercises serve at least two purposes:
- The student practice answering/discussing relevant questions for the final exam.
- The students get active instead of listening passively to the lecturer.
Usually, I can see the students becoming very tired after 10-15 minutes of passive listening. These voting questions “wake up” the students, and after one such question, they tend to stay focused for another 10-15 minutes.
I think the voting cards work really well. When I display a question, the students usually move from a relaxed position to sitting more straight and preparing for being active. I can hear them discussing what they are supposed to. I also get very good feedback and responses in whole-class discussions/summaries following the discussions in pairs. Such summaries are especially interesting if multiple answers can be correct, depending on how the students argue. I can select responses from students based on their visible letters and make sure we can hear different solutions to the same question. During a semester, I see a clear development in the way students reflect on the various questions and express critical thinking governing oceanographic processes. The exercises show the students how important argumentation is. An answer with a well-founded argumentation and critical thinking is worth much more than just the answer/letter. My observation is consistent with Kaddoura (2013), who found that the think-pair-share method increased nursing students’ critical thinking.
Lyman, F. (1981). “The responsive classroom discussion.” In Anderson, A. S. (Ed.), Mainstreaming Digest, College Park, MD: University of Maryland College of Education.
Kaddoura, M. (2013). «Think Pair Share: A Teaching Learning Strategy to Enhance Students’ Critical Thinking», EducationalResearchQuarterly, v36 n4 p3-24
Super excited to share a guest post today: Felipe is writing about his recent #WaveWatching article on “Evaluating shallow water waves by observing Mach cones on the beach”. I came across this article and was going to write a summary, but how much cooler is it to hear from Felipe himself? Thank you for being here! :)
My name is Dr Felipe Veloso1 and I tremendously appreciate Dr Mirjam Glessmer invitation to write this post and letting me contribute to the terrific #WaveWatching collection!!
One of the spectacular things of #WaveWatching is that the observations are ubiquitous. It doesn’t matter if you live in Germany, USA, Japan or Chile. Oscillations and waves are there, whether you observe swimming pools, lakes, sea, or even a relaxing bathtub ready for you. In all cases, the water is always naturally oscillating in a comfortable dance combining up-and-down and back-and-forth movements. If you enjoy these natural phenomena like I do, invest some of your time and take a look to the wonderful #WaveWatchingWednesday and #KitchenOceanography collections that Mirjam has gathered for us. But there are some occasions that these wave phenomena are obscured to our naked-eye observations and a more careful revision is needed to figure out where these oscillations are hidden. A turbulent river coming down of a hill, or the simple passing of fast water flow in front of our eyes are some examples of “waves hidden at first sight”. Such situation occurred to me in the latest family vacations we had as a break from the lockdowns imposed by the pandemia. In particular, this situation became the reason of an article in Physics Education, and also the reason of why I am writing these lines.
In an attempt to run away from the contaminated air of Santiago (the Chilean capital city, surrounded by mountains), we drove ~90 minutes to Viña del Mar city, to enjoy one week in the beach side. In this place, with the appropriate weather and personal calmness, families can enjoy the waves crushing the beach, the rising of children as “sand engineers”, and the “continuous fight” between these children and the ocean waves to avoid the destruction of the sand fortresses by the water. It is in this relaxing and family-friendly environment where my story begins.
My kids are playing in the sand and my feet are partially covered by water. After long time, we are able to come out from our houses after several months of mandatory quarantines, pandemic stress, and online teaching activities. In this particular moment, watching waves looks like a perfect panorama for me. Suddenly, the voice of my daughter Pilar wakes me up and asked me two questions: “Dad, what are you looking in the water?… and dad, why does the water creates those conical shapes at the end of the undertow current?” The first answer was easy. I was #WaveWatching. But the second answer was not so simple. What about those conical shapes?
Before her question, I haven’t thought on that. Rapidly, I realized I was observing a wave phenomena in a different and non-standard way. We were observing shock waves in the shape of Mach cones!! These cones appear when an object moves inside of a fluid with a relative velocity larger than the natural oscillation velocity of the fluid. In these situations, there is a shock occurring in the fluid itself. The tip of the cone (or V-) shape arises from the relative movement of the object, whereas the radial expansion of the wave creates the sides of the cone. This explains the formation of V-shapes in the water when a ship travels in a river, or when ducks swim in the lake. In the case of beach observations, the cones were originated by stationary small seashells or larger grains buried in the sand when the undertow water current returned back to the sea with depth not sufficient to immerse my toes.
Now, I am not really sure if my 8 years-old daughter or my 11 years-old son understood completely my explanations of waves and Mach cones. But, I am sure they understood that observing nature can be a fun and relaxing activity to enjoy in family vacations. As an exercise, I taught them how to compute the wave velocity by measuring these Mach cones. I also show them that we did not need any fancy or expensive equipment to accurately evaluate it. We only require interest and fascination on looking for an explanation of a natural phenomena… a phenomena that they could observe while enjoying the beach, the sand and the family time.
Further details can be found in the paper: Felipe Veloso (2021) “Evaluating shallow water waves by observing Mach cones on the beach” Phys Education 56, 054001.
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 have with lab work. Knowing this is obviously crucial to adapt labs to what students do and don’t know and avoid frustrations on all sides. And she has developed a nifty tool that helps to ask the right questions and then interpret the answers. Excitingly enough, since this is something that will be so useful to so many people and, in light of the disruption to pre-univeristy education caused by Covid-19, the slow route of classical publication is not going to help the students who need help most, she has agreed to share it (for the first time ever!) on my blog!
Welcome, Kirsty! :)
A tool to understand students’ previous experience and adapt your practical courses accordingly
Kirsty Dunnett (2021)
Since March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused enormous disruption across the globe, including to education at all levels. University education in most places moved online, while the disruption to school students has been more variable, and school students may have missed entire weeks of educational provision without the opportunity to catch up.
From the point of view of practical work in the first year of university science programmes, this may mean that students starting in 2021 have a very different type of prior experience to students in previous years. Regardless of whether students will be in campus labs or performing activities at home, the change in their pre-university experience could lead to unforeseen problems if the tasks set are poorly aligned to what they are prepared for.
Over the past 6 years, I have been running a survey of new physics students at UCL, asking about their prior experience. It consists of 5 questions about the types of practical activities students did as part of their pre-universities studies. By knowing students better, it is possible to introduce appropriate – and appropriately advanced – practical work that is aligned to students when they arrive at university (Dunnett et al., 2020).
The question posed is: “What is your experience of laboratory work related to Physics?”, and the five types of experience are:
1) Designed, built and conducted own experiments
2) Conducted set practical activities with own method
3) Completed set practical activities with a set method
4) Took data while teacher demonstrated practical work
5) Analysed data provided
For each statement, students select one of three options: ‘Lots’, ‘Some’, ‘None’, which, for analysis, can be assigned numerical values of 2, 1, 0, respectively.
The data on its own can be sufficient for aligning practical provision to students (Dunnett et al., 2020).
More insight can be obtained when the five types of experience are grouped in two separate ways.
1) Whether the students would have been interacting with and manipulating the equipment directly. The first three statements are ‘Active practical work’, while the last two are ‘Passive work’ on the part of the student.
2) Whether the students have had decision making control over their work. The first two statements are where students have ‘Control’, while the last three statements are where students are given ‘Instructions’.
Using the values assigned to the levels of experience, four averages are calculated for each student: ‘Active practical work’, ‘Passive work’; ‘Control’, ‘Instructions’. The number of students with each pair of averages is counted. This leads to the splitting of the data set, into one that considers ‘Practical experience’ (the first two averages) and one that considers ‘Decision making experience’ (the second pair of averages). (Two students with the same ‘Practical experience’ averages can have different ‘Decision making experience’ averages; it is convenient to record the number of times each pair of averages occurs in two separate files.)
To understand the distribution of the experience types, one can use each average as a co-ordinate – so each pair gives a point on a set of 2D axes – with the radius of the circle determined by the fraction of students in the group who had that pair of averages. Examples are given in the figure.
With over a year of significant disruption to education and limited catch up opportunities, the effects of the pandemic on students starting in 2021 may be significant. This is a quick tool that can be used to identify where students are, and, by rephrasing the statements of the survey to consider what students are being asked to to in their introductory undergraduate practical work – and adding additional statements if necessary, provide an immediate check of how students’ prior experience lines up with what they will be asked to do in their university studies.
With a small amount of adjustment to the question and statements as relevant, it should be easy to adapt the survey to different disciplines.
At best, it may be possible to actively adjust the activities to students’ needs. At worst, instructors will be aware of where students’ prior experience may mean they are ill-prepared for a particular type of activity, and be able to provide additional support in session. In either case, the student experience and their learning opportunities at university can be improved through acknowledging and investigating the effects of the disruption caused to education by the Covid-19 pandemic.
K. Dunnett, M.K. Kristiansson, G. Eklund, H. Öström, A. Rydh, F. Hellberg (2020). “Transforming physics laboratory work from ‘cookbook’ to genuine inquiry”. https://arxiv.org/abs/2004.12831
Today’s guest blogger Jeannette and I “met” on Twitter when she reposted one of my 24 Days of #KitchenOceanography posts, saying “A friend just forwarded me a # experiment that pretty much sums up my MSc work minus all the math.”. So I — obviously — asked her to write a guest post, and here we go! Thank you, Jeannette! :-)
“Lee waves are everywhere. They lurk in your sink, form over mountains and even beneath the ocean’s surface (no doubt they’ll be found out space too).
Mountains and under-sea ridges change how a fluid (air or water) passes over it. Glider pilots in the 1930s first noted the effects of lee waves—when a glider catches a lee wave, the unpowered aircraft can climb higher and stay in the air longer adding to the fun of their flight. But since I’m an oceanographer, I’m going to focus on water.
When water pushes up and over an obstacle, it gets squeezed and speeds up. At the bottom the water slows creating a wave on the surface. How this wave moves depends on the fluid velocity and water depth which can be combined in the Froude number.
The Froude number equals the fluid velocity over the square root of gravity times water depth (note—it’s water depth, not obstacle height so it still applies to the flat landscape of your sink). By using this number, flows in dramatically different settings can be compared. For example, atmospheric flow over a mountain range can be related to water moving over a weir.
So what does the Froude number tell us?
When F is smaller than one, flow over the bump is ‘subcritical’. The resulting surface wave can travel upstream, meaning that downstream conditions affect the flow upstream. This is kind of like tossing a pebble into a flowing stream and seeing the resulting ripples move both upstream and downstream.
When F is larger than 1, flow is ‘supercritical’ meaning no surface disturbance can travel upstream. Here, ripples created by a pebble tossed in cannot overcome the speed of the water and only move downstream.
Now, back to flow over a bump (although the bump is not actually required). As subcritical water pushes over it’s squeezed as the water is now shallower but the same amount of water has to move through. This forces the water to speed up and transition to supercritical.
As faster water crosses over to the other side of the bump where it’s again deeper. It abruptly slows and waves form. Since the water is moving too fast to let the waves move upstream (because it is supercritical) these waves build up, forming a sudden water level increase that can stand still in the flowing water. This is called a hydraulic jump—a non-linear effect observable in a kitchen sink or in water passing over a weir.
The bigger the Froude number is, the more pronounced the jump will be. For flow speeds slightly above the critical speed, the jump forms as an undulating wave. When flow speed increases, the Froude number also increases, and the transition becomes abrupt in shape. Beneath the wave, water flow becomes chaotic in an effect called turbulence.
Because of the turbulence they create, the sea floor under a lee wave makes great habitat for critters—especially stationary filter feeders, as a buffet of tasty treats whooshes by.”