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3:30 p.m.
Atlantic Building Room 2400 & Zoom

AOSC Seminar by Dr. Peggy McNeal, 4/25/2024

AOSC Seminar

Peggy McNeal

Towson University



Advances in Atmospheric Science Education Research (ASER): A Look at the Role of Cognition in Learning Meteorology



Atmospheric Science Education Research (ASER) is a burgeoning research area that seeks to improve teaching and learning in undergraduate atmospheric science. A collaborative community of researchers is working to highlight and disseminate evidence-based education research, identify goals and challenges for ASER, provide professional development to atmospheric scientists interested in education research, design high quality ASER studies that address relevant questions, and advance recognition of ASER as an impactful research area with substantial potential to influence teaching and learning. In addition to recounting current progress and research in ASER, in this presentation I will share my own work in the field, specifically two studies that examine the cognitive aspects of learning in the discipline. In the first study, I used a novice-expert, cross-sectional design with 67 meteorologists and students to identify specific spatial thinking skills necessary to practicing and learning meteorology. This work yielded the identification of disembedding—the ability to see a pattern in a noisy background—as a statistically significant predictor of performance on the type of meteorology tasks that we typically provide to students in undergraduate meteorology classrooms. In the second study, I interviewed over 40 students as they observed demonstrations in density and rotating tanks to characterize their conceptions of fluid motion and analyze their sense-making. This study is on-going, but initial results highlight the extremely unintuitive nature of fluid dynamics and reveal that students may not be taking from these demonstrations what we as instructors hope. Both studies provide insight into aspects of student learning in meteorology and can inform pedagogies and practices for improving atmospheric science education.



Peggy is a Geoscience Education Researcher at Towson University who focuses on investigating how students use spatial reasoning in fluid-Earth science courses. Her research includes working with student and expert meteorologists to better understand their interpretation of complex data displays, such as surface and upper air maps. She also uses rotating tanks to investigate student use of spatial reasoning while observing models of geophysical fluid processes. The goal of these investigations is to better understand how humans think spatially and apply that knowledge to teaching and learning in undergraduate fluid-Earth classrooms, such as meteorology and oceanography.

Peggy is working with colleagues in the Atmospheric Science Education Research (ASER) community to develop high-priority research questions that address atmospheric science education, share ideas for teaching innovations in atmospheric science classes, and bring awareness of existing ASER literature to atmospheric science faculty. Most recently, Peggy helped plan and host a highly successful three-day workshop that trained atmospheric scientists to conduct education research.

Peggy received a B.S. in Oceanography from the United States Naval Academy, an M.S. from Mississippi State University, and she holds a Ph.D. in Geoscience Education from Western Michigan University.



Gillian Felton


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AOSC Seminar

Pre-seminar refreshment: N/A
Seminar: 3:30-4:30pm, Room: ATL 2400(only when in-person)
Meet-the-Speaker: 4:30-5:00pm, Room: ATL 3400(only when in-person) [For AOSC Students only]

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