What have you been learning about this summer?
For the 1st part of summer, I worked on research projects with O’Dowd students for the Ecology Project International at Yellowstone, where we:
- Ran a long-term study on the number of “ungulates” i.e. hoofed mammals the ecosystem can maintain (National Park Service Bison Team)
- Conducted a new amphibian population study (National Forest Service)
- Completed species accounts on different animals common to the ecosystem
- Worked on taking down fences on ranch property to preserve pronghorn migration pathways (National Park Conservation Association)
During the 2nd part of summer, I took a Wildlife Ecology course through Montana State, which concentrated on finding wildlife, identifying them, learning field techniques for surveys, and connecting them with their specific habitat and ecosystem communities.
In July, I also presented at a week-long symposium where all graduating Montana State students presented their research. My research was on the effect of our research trips on our students in terms of content knowledge, motivation, and future pathways.
What teaching strategies did you learn?
Being in the field makes a huge difference for student learning and motivation. Students participated in data collection and were able to follow through to see things through to the next step – such as, getting collected data ready for DNA analysis, finishing counts and species identification from the field cameras, and completing data sheets.
Apply Concepts Locally. This really solidifies the importance of connecting our classes with the Living Lab, creek watershed on campus, and the Oakland Zoo. Many students were able to apply what they knew already about this ecosystem, but see it happening live. This course also relates to possibilities for our research class as we could replicate some of the field research techniques on our campus.
Agree to Disagree. From the Montana State course, I now have a much deeper perspective of issues such as tropic cascade and keystone species and how they come into play in Yellowstone. Since we use examples from Yellowstone in O’Dowd science classes, applying these research discussions will be helpful in getting students to see opposing views – not only from the community or between science and the community, but also between scientists. This will add a great learning element to our curriculum.
Be Clear With Objectives & Feedback. The overall research experience has really helped me to see how helpful clear and specific milestones are for students. It has also been helpful to see how positive feedback really helps as well as timely feedback. In terms of the Animal Project, I would like to think about how we complete posters. I don’t necessarily want to go digital for them, but we can improve on specific aspects such as videoing the presentation.
Are you involved in professional development experiences over Summer? Let us know!