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The University of the Sea and the benefits to learning of active participation in a research cruise.

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Presentation on theme: "The University of the Sea and the benefits to learning of active participation in a research cruise."— Presentation transcript:

1 The University of the Sea and the benefits to learning of active participation in a research cruise

2 Kelsie Dadd Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences & GEMOC, Macquarie University Elaine Baker UNEP Shelf Programme Regional Office, School of Geoscience, University of Sydney With help from: Geoscience Australia Students and staff with University of the Sea program Crew of the RV Tangaroa

3 University of the Sea A partnership between: Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO University of Sydney Australian National University University of New South Wales Macquarie University University of Technology Sydney University of Tokyo Korean Ocean Research and Development Institute Tongji University China Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans Canada National Institute of Oceanography Goa Indonesian Research Centre for Marine Technology

4 University of the Sea has operated since 2004 research cruises have investigated problems in the Coral, Arafura and Tasman Seas research problems have ranged from sea level change to gas hydrates and benthic habitats

5 University of the Sea young local scholars are able to address specific regional problems through research on marine issues working with senior researchers from the region University of the Sea program, places the students in the role of a researcher

6 experiential learning common component of Earth Science programs eg field work is learner-centred, active and related to the life and experiences of the student often seen as the most effective way for students to learn recognises that learning takes place in settings other than within formal institutions most effective if the project has a problem-based aspect

7 personal and practical involvement in the learning situation Personal involvement: development of a number of personal skills:   empowerment   becoming conscious of ones needs and desires student must make their own decisions and experience the results of these decisions program inspires the student involved and others they come in contact with at their home institution

8 Practical involvement: greater student motivation provides students with new oceanographic and scientific skills learning environment that engages their full attention instils a deeper understanding of the subject content personal and practical involvement in the learning situation

9 University of the Sea 2007 participants and survey 2 x 3 week cruise with research scientists from GA Students apply and are selected based on ability and the need for a spread across participating countries and universities 40% undergraduate (final year) 60% postgraduate Respondents 50/50 male/female

10 Evaluation of program Following slides look at the students perception of their experience aboard the Tangaroa from a survey completed at the end of each leg Likert scale SA = strongly agree A = agree N = neutral D = disagree SD = strongly disagree

11 Evaluation of program Questionnaire had 15 likert-scaled questions and 9 open-ended questions What were the best aspects of the cruise? In what ways could this cruise be improved? With what aspects of the cruise did you have difficulty, and why? What extra support would have helped you during the cruise? Do you feel more confident to apply marine science theory after the cruise? Why?

12 Evaluation of program What were the main objectives you had when you enrolled for this cruise? How has the cruise fulfilled these objectives? Did you require more information or support before going on the cruise? Please feel free to make any other comments regarding the cruise.

13 Clear aims and objectives UoS has an introductory talk that covers many items aims may not have been clearly enough defined may benefit from a handout that better outlines the aims and objectives given out before the cruise “Clearer objectives and expectations” “Better information on objectives and conditions beforehand (eg what the opportunities might be, what resources (books and equipment) would be available)”

14 Work was structured to assist my learning Student projects are left to the students, supervisor and staff to organise once the cruise is underway Students may benefit from a more structured project framework that is integrated with their studies “Increase the number of lectures and lectures about the methodologies used” “Clearer direction as to what was expected and what we could do to learn”

15 Valuable for my learning The UoS program was seen as valuable “Being on the boat at sea, meeting new and different people, seeing sampling equipment in action” “Diversity of research and abundance of opportunity to learn completely different fields of science”

16 Helped see application of theory into practice UoS students had varied backgrounds and not all saw the cruise objectives as being closely related to their area “Put all the theory I have learned in the last few years into practice” “now that we have had the opportunity to do what we have learned in a classroom we have a better understanding of how things work at sea”

17 Sufficient one on one instruction to develop my skills Although UoS students generally felt they had reasonable one on one instruction, some felt that more was needed “More direction in what I was required to do” “advice and support from xxxxx which are very valuable and of great help”

18 Sufficient technical support to resolve difficulties staff may be too busy at times to offer sufficient help The staff/student ratio on the UoS cruise was excellent senior students may expect more detailed and focussed technical support

19 Sufficient technical support to resolve difficulties “More experience in weak areas such as deep sea biology since we were doing a lot of deep sea sampling” “Recording and processing of the sonar bathymetry because only the information technology specialist is involved” “Diversity of scientists and technicians with different backgrounds and perspectives provided an interesting and well balanced learning environment (lots of videos and good food was also very welcome)”

20 Encouraged to reflect upon skills and abilities Students felt they were not encouraged to reflect upon what they had learnt This could be helped by asking the UoS students to present results part way through the trip “Perhaps having regularly scheduled discussion periods for information sharing and learning new material would have been more productive – the irregularly held talks … were very appreciated”

21 Content and skills developed are relevant to my future UoS students self-select and are interested in marine science “have practiced my marine skills over trip in species ID etc” “More training is required for post- processing techniques”

22 Helped to inform me about career opportunities “Diversity of research and abundance of opportunity to learn completely different fields of science” “I have experienced what kinds of information has led to the development of conclusions/theories in other science fields”

23 Experiential learning was an effective learning experience Almost all students indicated that the cruise was an effective learning experience “The hands-on experience gained” “The opportunity to pursue a small project and report on my findings gave me more confidence in my marine science knowledge”

24 Recent research findings were explained The UoS students were also familiar with research and had a good understanding of their subject areas There was plenty of opportunity on the UoS cruise to talk with the students about recent research

25 Alternative points of view were presented UoS students were likely to enter discussions that brought up alternate viewpoints Interesting that this is not higher Students may benefit from readings given prior to the trip “Background materials should have been made available weeks in advance”

26 Enough opportunities for communicating with staff Students thought that they had sufficient opportunity to talk with staff “Research staff also very open and encouraged involvement” “It would have been good to have a student supervisor on both shifts as I felt this was missing from night shift”

27 Opportunity to enhance interpersonal skills Working in close conditions on a 3-week cruise appears to have been effective for enhancing interpersonal skills “Being on the boat at sea, meeting new and different people…” “Able to work with other people with different backgrounds” “…difficulty in understanding different accents…”

28 Opportunity to enhance team-work skills Students were able to work with others and share tasks “Working as an integral part of the formal research team” “Research staff also very open and encouraged involvement”

29 Conclusions Benefits to the student: Learning by doing increases the chances of understanding Exposure to research in action Learning environment is free of most distractions Learning to negotiate a team work environment Development of coping mechanisms due to isolation from peers Empowerment through decision making Learning to cope with the unexpected and to become adaptable Development of generic skills

30 Conclusions Benefits to the university: Exposure of the university in a research setting Prestige in having a student chosen for the program Returning student brings back enthusiasm for science and research Benefits to the community: Exposure to the program and the research by more people via interaction with the student A community member with better life-skills


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