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Developing Practical Data Skills in Undergraduate Students Using Ocean Observatories

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Abstract

Developing the workforce to meet the needs of the blue economy will require changing undergraduate marine science programs to provide a wider range of skills developed by “doing” rather than just “reading.” Students also need training on how to effectively work in a team, critically analyze data, and be able to clearly communicate key points. With that in mind, we developed a new undergraduate course (called Ocean Observing) focused on conducting research by analyzing data collected and delivered to shore in near real time from the growing global network of ocean observatories. The course structure is based on student teams that use data to develop a range of data products, many of which have been suggested by state and federal agencies as well as from maritime companies. Students can take the Ocean Observing course repeatedly throughout their undergraduate career. A complimentary second entry course (called Oceanography House) was developed to entrain freshmen first-term students into research on their first semester on campus. The Ocean Observing course has increased the number of marine science majors and the overall diversity of the marine science program and resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of independent student theses conducted each year. Over the last 10 years, student data profiles from the course emphasize the importance of conducting research in a public way so students can partake in the “adventure” of research before the outcome is known. To increase the public visibility of these “adventures,” collaborations between departments across the campus have developed nationally broadcast documentaries and outreach materials. Going forward, we seek to build on this success by developing an accelerated Masters of Operational Oceanography and link these undergraduate students with external companies through externships and coordinated research projects.
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Keywords: ocean observatories; undergraduate education

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 February 2018

More about this publication?
  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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