Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures

Active Learning Strategies in a Nontraditional Teacher Education Program

Event Name/Location

2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado, October 28-31, 2007

Presentation Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Union Institute & University uses a guided-independent study pedagogy, developed in the 1960s, for all courses offered in the undergraduate programs. We have found, however, that this approach is not well suited for science learning. Our students achieved better results when we adopted a hybrid approach, combining a limited number of face-to-face meetings with the independent learning strategy. Our target audience is primarily our elementary education majors who plan to teach in the urban school districts of Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Inquiry-based learning strategies are integral to our hybrid approach. The author reports on the application of a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) strategy for introducing a unit on hurricanes. This PBL exercise is part of a series of inquiry-based, hands-on modules developed for our elementary education majors. The PBL strategy encourages collaboration, peer teaching, and elements of inquiry difficult to facilitate in a pure distance learning model.

In addition, the author reports on the results of an independent senior project in which the student, a police captain with the Sunny Isles Police Department implemented a project for achieving Storm Ready certification for the city. The City of Sunny Isles is located on a barrier island north of Miami Beach, Florida. Like other barrier islands communities in South Florida, this one is densely developed and susceptible to flooding and wind damage in high intensity tropical storms. Storm Ready is a certification offered by the National Weather Service designed to help municipalities integrate emergency warning systems, weather information, and community outreach to improve community preparation and response to weather-related emergencies.

While in this case, Storm Ready certification of the City of Sunny Isles required a long-term commitment of a single student, we believe that a Storm Ready project could be adapted for groups of high school or college students. PBL or Project-Based strategies could be used to accomplish the project in stages, with the cooperation of local city officials and first responders. Students learn about emergency response, weather prediction, remote- and direct sensing of weather conditions, and geographic information systems.


© Copyright 2007 The Geological Society of America (GSA), all rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to the author(s) of this abstract to reproduce and distribute it freely, for noncommercial purposes. Permission is hereby granted to any individual scientist to download a single copy of this electronic file and reproduce up to 20 paper copies for noncommercial purposes advancing science and education, including classroom use, providing all reproductions include the complete content shown here, including the author information. All other forms of reproduction and/or transmittal are prohibited without written permission from GSA Copyright Permissions.

Additional Comments

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 39, No. 6, p.252

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