Teaching in the field: Foundations, feedback and fun

September 16, 2014
WDG

My final teaching job for The Open University was to help deliver the “Sedimentary Rocks & Fossils in the Field” section of the Level 2 Practical Science module (SXG288) offered by the Science Faculty. I have been involved in all three presentations of this section of the SXG288 module, which will now cease to be offered, and a number of other Earth and environmental science residential schools over the last 9 years.

Showing students the rocksHaving the opportunity to engage directly with students and enthuse them face-to-face about the subject I specialise in is a privilege I have gained a lot from. Furthermore, my over-riding impression from the students I have taught is that they feel they benefit greatly from the opportunity to explore first hand the concepts and subjects which they have previously studied in books and online. Based on my experiences on “Sedimentary Rocks and Fossils”, and other modules as both a tutor and a student, I am convinced that to effectively teach geological, geographical, environmental and ecological subjects effectively an element of field-based teaching is required.

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PCRG October to December

December 20, 2013
WDG

The latter half of 2013 seems to have been incredibly busy and I have not managed to get my monthly update posts completed since October. Rather than a rapid series of backdates here is a quick summary of what I think the main activities through this period have been!

Thesis defence: Congratulations to both Lottie and Natalie for sucessfully defending their PhD theses! Exeptional effort and hard work from both of you. Well done.

Publications: Four articles have gone through the final stages and been published in top journals. Well done to Lottie, Maca, Wes for leading three of those publications covering Lake Bosumtwi, Erazo and pollen/spore chemistry respectively. Personally I am delighted that the revised tropical pollen atlas is now online and open access. The final stages of publication of the atlas with Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology were hard work but great to see it online and avaliable. Thanks to Lottie and Dan Livingstone for their invaluable contributions.

Grant: We have been awarded further 14C dates from NERC radiocarbon facility to improve the chronology on Laguna Khomer Kotcha Upper so that the timing of temperature osscilations revealed by new chironomid analysis (by Frazer Bird) can be related to the last global degalciation (c. 18,000 years ago) and the Younger Dryas cooling event (c. 12,800 – 11,500 years ago). This research builds on that of former PCRG PhD student and current research collaborator Joe Williams (Williams et al., 2011; Williams et al., 2012).

Teaching: I have been working primarily on the Geological record of environmental change (S369) presentation, and writing the landforms section for the new level 2 environmental science module.

Fieldwork: Trips to Ghana (Adele and Phil) and Ecuador (Nick, Encarni and Will) have been super successful; AND all the samples have made it back! See posts elsewhere on the blog for details of field work fun.

I am sure other stuff has happened… more in the New Year… and maybe some more pictures when I can get back on my newly “optimized” (killed) office computer 🙂

PCRG August

September 4, 2013
WDG

Will's BES T-shirt logo swabbed at Greenman

Will’s BES T-shirt logo swabbed at Greenman; for more microbes on festival kit visit the “Hall of shame” on http://www.besfest.org

August was a month for travel with PCRG members heading for Peru (Bryan, and he is still there), Greenman festival (William), INTECOL conference (William and Frazer), and the Royal Geographic Society annual meeting (William, Encarni, Frazer and Hayley). Detailed reports of the UK based travels are already on the blog, and hopefully we will get a post from Bryan on his Peruvian adventure once he is back.

Back in Milton Keynes work progressed with:

  • Hayley producing a revised full draft of her pollen counting methodology manuscript,
  • Frazer starting with the first tentative attempts to apply his chironomid training data set to fossil chironomid records,
  • Phil trialing inverted microscopes and training on the FTIR,
  • Encarni plotting field work in Ecuador (more travel for November-December),
  • William seeming to spend alot of time working on research strategy for the faculty, and thinking about writing teaching material for the ongoing revison of our level 2 environmental science module, and
  • most excitingly of all, Lottie submitting her PhD thesis! WELL DONE LOTTIE.
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