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Open Session in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

In this session we encourage contributions of general interest within the Higher Education community which are not covered by other sessions. The session is open to all areas involving the teaching of geoscience and related fields in higher education. Examples might include describing a new resource available to the community, presenting a solution to a teaching challenge, pros and cons of a new technique/technology, linking science content to societally relevant challenges/issues, developing critical thinking skills through the curriculum and effective strategies for online/remote instruction and/or hybrid/blended learning.

Convener: Elizabeth Petrie | Co-conveners: Beth Pratt-Sitaula, Achraf Koulali
| Mon, 23 May, 13:20–14:50 (CEST)
Room 1.14

Mon, 23 May, 13:20–14:50

Chairperson: Philippa Cowles

Sebastian G. Mutz et al.

Many issues related to contemporary climate change (e.g. reduced crop yield and diminishing water reservoirs) cannot be effectively addressed without improving the understanding of the climate system in future scientists, communicators and policy makers. Many higher education climate courses, however, are overspecialised, inaccessible and didactically inflexible, making it difficult to transfer them to other learning settings or instructors. INTEGRATE (Integrated Teaching of Atmospheric Science, Technical Skills and Empirical Methods) is an EGU-supported, open-access teaching package that is designed to remove barriers for teaching climate science in a higher education setting. The teaching package is self-contained and covers basic concepts of physical climatology, as well as programming and empirical analysis needed to work with climate datasets. The teaching approach includes hands-on activities for collecting and analysing atmospheric data, such as assembling and operating simple weather stations with affordable hardware. The course material, including source code, instructions, and figures, is available as a git repository (https://github.com/sebastian-mutz/integrate) and compiles into a complete course website (e.g. integrate.mutz.science). While the course was originally designed and tested as a series of lectures and computer exercises for BSc and MSc level university students, it has been revised to allow for adaptation to different teaching and learning levels and strategies in higher education. In this presentation, we introduce the course website and give examples of course content that can be used to instill a deeper understanding of theoretical and practical knowledge of climate science in university students.

How to cite: Mutz, S. G., Boateng, D., and Mohadjer, S.: INTEGRATE: A higher-education teaching package for climate science, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-864, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-864, 2022.

Sebastian Schwindt and Federica Scolari

The analysis of hydro-morphodynamic processes in river ecosystems involves modeling complex natural processes based on continuously growing data sets. Typical tools involved in such analyses embrace numerical models, GIS software, and high-level programming languages. Teaching the application of these tools is part of many environmental and geoscience-oriented study courses though the tool development partly roots in other disciplines, such as civil or software engineering. Thus, the holistic understanding of tools for hydro-morphological modeling and assessment of river ecosystems is an interdisciplinary challenge that is often solved in practice through multi-institutional collaboration. Yet, even public academic institutions tend to teach the usage of proprietary software that is embedded in a chain of even more, often expensive, proprietary software applications. In addition, the teaching of software refers to a presently up-to-date version, and its application can quickly become outdated.

To address the challenge of teaching interdisciplinary tools for modeling and analyzing river ecosystems, we have created an online eBook (available at https://hydro-informatics.com) that exclusively explains the use of open-source and open-access software. The eBook goes beyond our institutional teaching, and we do our best to keep the descriptions of software applications up-to-date. In addition, we offer more than IT assistance through detailed explanations of physical processes and mathematical equations involved in river ecosystem modeling. For instance, we explain geomorphological principles and the development of equations for calculating fluvial sediment transport. In cross-disciplinary application examples, we also feature ecohydraulic principles of river landscape analysis, for example, to calculate habitat suitability based on two-dimensional numerical model outputs. To this end, we explain and demonstrate the installation and use of the high-level programming language Python, the numerical modeling software BASEMENT and TELEMAC, the usage of git and Markdown, and the geospatial software QGIS on common operating systems (including and with preference: Linux). Ultimately, we also offer sample data sets, self-learning checks, exercises, and troubleshooting solutions to keep the barrier to free teaching as low as possible.

How to cite: Schwindt, S. and Scolari, F.: A new Educational Open-source eBook for Modeling River Hydro-morphodynamics, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-9526, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-9526, 2022.

Martin H. Trauth

It’s been almost 30 years since I started with MATLAB, coming from FORTRAN77, and at a time when Python was still in its infancy and 20 years before Julia was developed. However, I recognize the popularity of Python, including the growing prevalence of Julia, and find that a bilingual and trilingual version of my MATLAB-based books and my courses could be beneficial. I’ve been learning Python for a few months now, with the goal of writing a Python version of my first book, MATLAB Recipes for Earth Sciences, 5th Edition (Springer 2021). In the meantime, almost all chapters of the book, with topics such as time series analysis, signal processing, digital terrain analysis and image processing, have been translated from MATLAB into Python, some also into Julia. Using the trilingual code in a master's course shows an unexpected but extremely positive side effect: students get away from a particular software or programming language, and focus instead on the method they want to implement. In addition, solutions often use mixtures of programming languages, exploiting the advantages of each. This is an advantage, also helps a lot to produce sustainable and reproducible code. Furthermore, this approach makes the students fit for a job in academia or industry, where other software tools are used than the ones we use in class. Here, I will share my experiences with courses on data analysis in earth sciences with 2–3 programming languages and with translating a data analysis book from one to another programming language.

How to cite: Trauth, M. H.: The Recipes for Earth Sciences Go Trilingual: MATLAB, Python and Julia, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-2165, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-2165, 2022.

Elizabeth Petrie

Students on the geospatial MSc programmes start with very varied levels of maths experience/skills. The students all need to become capable with all the maths concepts needed for the degree programme, but without boring those who can already do them. The Numbas software is freely available, open source and very mathematically capable (https://www.numbas.org.uk/). It facilitates creation of questions and exams which are randomizable, so students can repeat them many times for practice as needed. The randomizable nature of the questions can also be helpful for remote learning, as everyone has a test with different answers. This work describes how the tests and learning material have been arranged within the module to encourage timely self-learning of maths topics linked to geospatial themes, with initial low stakes assessments followed by higher stakes summative assessment, and discusses experiences with integrating Numbas over the last four years.  

How to cite: Petrie, E.: Strategies for building maths skills in a geospatial MSc class using the web based e-assessment software Numbas , EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-2403, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-2403, 2022.

Elena B. Sparrow et al.

Increasing temperatures in the Arctic are thawing permafrost, changing vegetation, and increasing wildfires at unprecedented rates. Climate change is also affecting other regions in the United States and in the world. This presentation describes a climate change research immersive program born from a partnership between an international climate research center and a science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) program in a Southern California community college. For four years, the Santa Ana College Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) International Arctic Research Center brought groups of science and engineering students North to witness climate change in the Arctic and conduct original research on an aspect of the changes. The COVID 19 pandemic posed a challenge and halted this collaborative work; however in 2021 gave us the impetus to creatively continue in providing a research intensive experience to first generation college students from groups underrepresented in STEM fields, through a blended on-line and in-person Summer Climate Research Intensive Course that examines the ecological impacts of climate change through hands-on field research. Student groups in Santa Ana, California and Fairbanks, Alaska met for instruction, training and collaborative work online through video conference, and completed comparative field work in their two different forest ecosystems with the help of local scientist mentors at location. Students gained science skills and experience in research question framing, ecological fieldwork, laboratory procedures, collaboration, data analysis and communication, as they designed and conducted their research projects alongside professional climate change scientists. All students completed a research project and developed a project poster which they presented at a blended science symposium and plan to present at other professional conferences. The Course was jointly sponsored by the Arctic and Earth STEM Integrating GLOBE and NASA program (UAF International Arctic Research Center), the Santa Ana College Math, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) Program, and the UAF Climate Scholars Program (UAF Honors College). Lessons learned and evaluation results will also be shared.

How to cite: Sparrow, E. B., Spellman, K., Fochesatto, G. J., Castillo, C., Coyne, C., Cutkomp, J., Ornelas, C., and Ramirez, A.: A Climate Research Intensive Undergraduate Program Pivot During a Pandemic, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-12587, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-12587, 2022.

Beth Pratt-Sitaula et al.

GETSI (GEodesy Tools for Societal Issues) is a US National Science Foundation-funded program that develops, tests, and disseminates data-rich and societally relevant curriculum for undergraduate field and classroom teaching. GETSI has published 13 modules (~2-3 weeks of class time each) co-authored by faculty at varied colleges and universities (serc.carleton.edu/getsi). The dissemination plan for the 2020-21 academic year was originally entirely in-person workshops. When the COVID19 pandemic necessitated the postponement and/or cancellation of essentially all face-to-face activities, the project pivoted to an online dissemination model for the 2020-21 academic year and convened a GETSI Virtual Mini Short Course Series and a virtual short course: Teaching in the field with SfM and RTK GPS/GNSS.

The Virtual Mini Short Course Series was October 2020-April 2021 and included 9 mini-courses. Unlike a webinar, the majority of the mini-course consisted of time for participants to work individually and collaboratively through portions of the student exercises, discuss teaching ideas, and develop a plan for implementation. The series attracted a wider range of participants from a broader range of institutions than many in-person events. Participants could choose to attend one or more of the mini-courses, depending on their area(s) of interest. Each 2-hour mini-course, co-led by a GETSI PI and module co-author(s), highlighted a different GETSI module and offered participants a small stipend for completing an implementation plan for using GETSI materials in their classroom. We used a variety of active learning strategies during the mini courses, including think-pair-shares, polling, report-outs, gallery tours, and jigsaws.

The two virtual short courses "Teaching in the Field with SfM and GPS" brought together graduate students and college/university faculty into an online learning cohort. Each institutional team received an RTK GPS receiver pair to practice with for several weeks and the cohort worked through similar field tasks separately, while periodically reconvening online to share challenges and accomplishments.

The lessons learned from this unanticipated shift to virtual professional development have implications moving forward for designing high-quality, interactive professional development for the whole STEM community.

How to cite: Pratt-Sitaula, B., Walker, B., Douglas, B., Crosby, B., and Charlevoix, D.: Finding the Silver Lining: Benefits and lessons learned from pivot to virtual short courses for instructor professional development for classroom and field geoscience, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-3298, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-3298, 2022.

General questions/discussion

Luigia Brandimarte et al.
M. Chantale Damas

Providing students with hands-on experience in emerging technologies, and engaging them in discovering new knowledge are ongoing challenges in undergraduate engineering and science education. CubeSats are playing an increasingly significant role in scientific research and exploration, as demonstrated by NASA’s successful Insight Mission. Challenging students to design, build, and test these small satellites has the potential to increase their problem-solving, computational, and critical thinking skills.  Furthermore, since CubeSats can be built with commercial-off-the shelf (COTS) components, they are relatively inexpensive and accessible to a diversity of programs and students.  This work describes a successful program in which students were challenged to design, build, and test a 1U (unit) COTS CubeSat. CubeSat student projects incorporate both technology demonstrations and sensors as scientific payloads.  Programmatic and technical successes and challenges faced by students especially during the COVID-19 pandemic are discussed, and some strategies are offered on how to implement such a program at different institutions with diverse student populations.

How to cite: Damas, M. C.: Using CubeSats to develop critical thinking skills , EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-27, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-27, 2022.

David Reid et al.

Volcanic ash presents a challenge for the aviation industry. Volcanic ash is semi-transparent, absorbing in the 8-12 micron window. 3D information is needed to be able to back-calculate dose – this is a key parameter in managing airspace. To recreate the ash cloud, multiangle observations are required – making a nadir-pointing satellite ideal to perform observations for this purpose. Other mission objectives using the same instruments can also be realised, for example, as volcanic ash clouds are the primary target, there is the possibility to map new magma extrusions, lava and pyroclastic flow movements. Thermal infrared data has also previously been used to observe volcanic cycles and better understand their behaviour. There is also the possibility of including forest fires as targets of opportunity. The images required for 3D construction of ash clouds can also be used to create digital elevation models of terrain around volcanos which have application in disaster management and planning.

A CubeSat mission - Pointable Radiometer for Observing Volcanic Emissions (PROVE) - is proposed to monitor the ash cloud using both thermal infrared and visual cameras. All requirements and components were determined by students through trade-off studies. Each work package was undertaken by undergraduate and postgraduate students (both as part of research projects and on a voluntary extracurricular basis) supervised by academics. The resulting 1U+ payload consists of a thermal infrared camera (FLIR Tau 2 with a 50mm lens), and 2 visual cameras (a narrow field of view Basler ace ac5472-5gc with a Kowa LM75HC lens, and a 5MP Arducam with a 40 degree lens as a wide field of view instrument). Alongside this, a payload computer to communicate with the cameras and store data was selected (the Beaglebone Black Industrial) with a custom PCB providing connections to the instruments and bus. The software to operate the payload takes the form of a custom scheduler for an imaging pass, sending commands to the camera systems (and to the bus) to take the required multiangle images for ash cloud reconstruction.

The payload is currently in the final design and testing stage, with vibration and vacuum testing, as well as FlatSat testing before the final manufacture and integration of the payload. There is the possibility of a UK launch later this year.

How to cite: Reid, D., Timperley, L., Pike, O., Etchells, T., Hollingdale, J., Goodwin, T., Exton, D., Labia, F., Stonkus, V., O'Donnell, M., Leach, C., Aadhithya Ravikumar, V., Proud, W., Sutlieff, G., Aplin, K., Berthoud, L., Sarua, A., Schenk, M., and Watson, M.: A Student-Led Project for the Design of an Imaging CubeSat Payload, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-9492, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-9492, 2022.

Paolo Tealdi et al.

The Pyxis project is a sounding rocket developed by Skyward Experimental Rocketry from Politecnico di Milano, with the ultimate goal of participating in the European Rocketry Challenge in October 2022. The rocket, which will be the most advanced Italian sounding rocket ever developed by university students, will give the opportunity to hold a payload of 1U inside the nosecone. After lift-off, the rocket will rapidly reach the apogee at 3000 meters, where the nosecone with the payload bay will be ejected and recovered independently from the rocket thanks to an autonomous guided parafoil. For the payload development the team is collaborating with the students at the Scientific High School “Cigna-Baruffi-Garelli” – Mondovì, as they are creating a sensing platform, through the use of Blebricks sensors (IoT sensors), capable of detecting enviromental data such as pressure, temperature and quality of the air, storing it on board for post-flight analysis. 
The students at “Cigna-Baruffi-Garelli” are already involved also in another STEM experience with hot air/stratospheric balloons called infoBalloons, presented last year at EGU 2021 (Tealdi, P., Innocenti, F., and Aimo, G. (.: infoBalloons: an Italian High School educational self-made budget friendly STEM experience with hot air/stratospheric balloons, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13420, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-13420, 2021). infoBalloons 2.0 is a selected Sounding Balloon (SB) Experiments in the 2nd HEMERA Call for Proposals (HEMERA H2020. This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and Innovation programme under grant agreement No 730970).
An added value in the Pyxis project is the participation as partners of LB Space with Luciano Battocchio (retired Space Engineer - Exomars Parachute Program Manager), Bleb Technology with Fabrizio Innocenti (CEO),  John Aimo Balloons with Giovanni (John) Aimo. 


How to cite: Tealdi, P., Battocchio, L., Innocenti, F., Aimo, G. (., Corallo, F., Donghi, N., Colombo, M., Florio, N., Nidasio, A., Del Duca, A., Rosato, D., Cucchi, L., Ciuti, L., and Porro, V.: The Pyxis project: a sounding rocket developed by Skyward Experimental Rocketry from Politecnico di Milano in collaboration with the Scientific High School “Cigna-Baruffi-Garelli” – Mondovì, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-6422, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-6422, 2022.

Boris Jansen

In the last decades we have increasingly seen a shift in higher education away from teaching soil science at the undergraduate level as stand-alone program or as part of more traditional Earth sciences programs. Instead, soil science is increasingly embedded in larger interdisciplinary programs. These can be programs within the realm of the natural sciences, e.g. combining soil science and ecology to study ecosystem functioning. Or they may be broader still, and include elements from the social sciences, economics, political science, etc.. Such broad interdisciplinary sustainability programs offer great opportunities, as they enable students to study soil sciences as part of the complex human-nature interactions that underpin the grand challenges of our time. However, teaching soil science in such in the context of an interdisciplinary sustainability program faces important challenges as well. These include finding a proper balance between broad orientation and specialization, and finding the truly interdisciplinary professors to teach the program.

At the University of Amsterdam, in 2006 we embedding our soil science teaching in the interdisciplinary Bachelor program Future Planet Studies (FPS) that includes natural sciences and social sciences components. In my presentation I aim to share some experiences from the evolution of the FPS program over the last 15 years. I will highlight some of our successes, and some of the challenges that we are still struggling with. With this I hope to initiate a discussion about the role of soil science in interdisciplinary programs, and learn from the experience of others.

How to cite: Jansen, B.: Future Planet Studies: embedding soil science in an interdisciplinary sustainability bachelor program, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-910, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-910, 2022.

Elizabeth Williams et al.

Complex systems incorporating interconnected social, ecological, and technological components are often the subject of analysis and intervention. Such systems frequently give rise to wicked problems [1-4] – problems that “prove to be highly resistant to resolution through any of the currently existing modes of problem-solving” [2-3]. Such problems require a transdisciplinary approach – one where multiple perspectives and realities can inform decisions for intervening in the system. This is well understood in many policy-relevant fields. Inquiry into climate change impacts or water policy, for example, can only proceed effectively with some understanding of the “partiality, plurality and provisionality of knowing” [5]. In working with these types of complex systems, transdisciplinary teams capable of effectively engaging with many worldviews and ways of creating knowledge [2] are increasingly seen as essential for carrying out impactful research-based work. Despite the increasing importance of transdisciplinary practice, educational programs designed to help students effectively carry out this work remain rare, and researchers engaging in this kind of practice often must navigate institutional structures designed to reinforce rather than permeate boundaries between disciplines.

The School of Cybernetics at the Australian National University is one of an increasing number of institutions where transdisciplinary practice is a norm rather than an exception. Staff have been recruited from diverse scholarly and professional backgrounds and career trajectories, and activities encourage engagement in transdisciplinary inquiry. This is in service of the central mission of the School: to identify and develop the knowledges and practices required to take AI-enabled cyber-physical systems safely, responsibly and sustainably to scale in the world.  Experimental transdisciplinary masters and PhD programs have been convened since 2019 to help achieve this mission.

In this presentation, we will draw from the authors’ collective experience as supervisors, instructors, and students in these and other programs to provide guidance on designing and delivering effective transdisciplinary educational programs for higher degree research students. We will address the following aspects of postgraduate education: the student selection process, in which careful cohort selection is essential for identifying students likely to effectively engage in transdisciplinary work; our experience using formal and informal hands-on training in a range of research and relationship-management skills to support transdisciplinary practice; institutional structures and scaffolding to support transdisciplinary cultures and incentives; and ways of supporting students and supervisors to thrive through the creation of diverse and respectful research communities of practice that support collective learning.

[1] C. Andersson and P. Törnberg, Futures, 95, 118–138 (2018).

[2] V.A. Brown, Collective Inquiry and Its Wicked Problems, in Tackling Wicked Problems: Through the Transdisciplinary Imagination, edited by J.A. Harris et al., (Earthscan, New York, Oxon, 2010) pp. 61-83.

[3] H. Rittel and M. Webber, Policy Sciences, 4(2), 155-169 (1973).

[4] J. Mingers, and J. Rosenhead, Rational analysis for a problematic world revisited, Vol. 1 (John Wiley and Sons Ltd. Chichester UK, 2001).

[5] J.Y. Russell, A Philosophical Framework for an Open and Critical Transdisciplinary Inquiry, in Tackling Wicked Problems: Through the Transdisciplinary Imagination, edited by J.A. Harris et al., (Earthscan, New York, Oxon, 2010) pp. 31-60.

How to cite: Williams, E., Berman, G., Reid, K., Daniell, K., and Zafiroglu, A.: Complex systems and interconnected worlds: Crafting transdisciplinary higher degree research programs in an Australian context, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-4089, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-4089, 2022.

Nathaniel Bogie and Roger Bayala

Since the 1980s the number of stations reporting quality weather data across Africa has been in decline. Weather data is critical for meeting climate challenges that the world will face in the 21st century. Unfortunately, along with the paucity of climatological data, Africa faces some of the largest vulnerabilities to a changing climate, including changes to local precipitation and temperature regimes upon which farmers rely for rainfed agriculture, which makes up 98% of the agriculture in Côte d’Ivoire. In this project students and scientists in Côte d’Ivoire and the United States are leveraging the Trans African Hydrometeorology Network (TAHMO) University to University (U2U) program to build a network of youth scientists in the region of Université Jean Lorougnon Guédé de Daloa (UJLG). In order to carry out this work we have identified ten locations at primary and secondary schools where manual rainfall and temperature gauges are being installed. The partner locations are schools in Gonaté, Brizeboua, Kibouo, Tahiragué, Zahia, Bla and Zéréfla. At these sites students will learn about weather and climate measurement and read daily rainfall amounts and temperatures from manual recorders. University students at UJLG and San José State University will collect, compile, and check the weather data in order to post it to a shared website where it can be viewed publicly. In addition, we plan to install one of the automated TAHMO weather stations at UJLD which is a robust station that records air temperature, wind speed, solar radiation, relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, lightning strike, and lightning strike distance and communicates them directly to the TAHMO network where they are available for viewing on the web. Using the manually recorded data as well as the automated data from the TAHMO station we plan to further develop teaching materials for earth system and agro-meteorology courses at UJLG and SJSU. The objectives of this project are to (1) provide opportunities for youth to learn about climate and weather data using a hands-on approach in their local area  (2) strengthen ties between US and Ivorian students and scientists and (3) to contribute to increasing the amount and quality of climate data across the African continent.

How to cite: Bogie, N. and Bayala, R.: Youth Citizen Science and Agro-Climatology in Côte d’Ivoire, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-10990, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-10990, 2022.

General questions/discussion