I adapted this module to a multi-week "research project" for my online, nonmajors Environmental Science course. It involved LOTS of scaffolding, and taking things very slowly. Along with these assignments, there were also three graded discussions. I have posted the guidelines for these discussions below.
Online Graded Discussion 1:
Week 12 Instructions:
1. Let's do a little research. Using the central question given to you in our Global Climate Change and Phenology Research Project:
"Have long-term temperatures changed, and if so, how will these temperature changes impact plant and animal phenology, ecological interactions, and, as a result, species diversity?"
find and post at least ONE credible, reliable, objective, and valid resource (scholarly scientific article or webpage from a source that satisfies those adjectives) by 11:59pm Wed night. In your post, summarize the main points or take home messages from the source you identified. THEN, read through the other posts and before 11:59pm Sun night, comment on at least one additional post (i.e., a different reference than you posted), with a message that makes a connection between your posted source/reference or asks a meaningful question that facilitates discussion of material presented in that source/reference.
Online Graded Discussion 2:
View the temperature data attached to the Pinned Post. Find your group's climate division, and compare it to other climate divisions as well as the statewide temperature trends.
For your first post (by 11:59pm Wed night):
Describe how your group's assigned climate division compares to the other 9 climate divisions AND the statewide temperature data. What conclusions would you come to based on your group's climate division data alone about temperature change in Ohio? What conclusions do you come to when you consider all 10 climate divisions and the statewide averages?
For your second post/reply (by 11:59pm Sun night): Reply to at least one classmate who posted about a DIFFERENT climate division than your group worked with. Compare and contrast your temperature trends, and consider both their post, as well as your group's climate division, in the context of the statewide averages. What value do we get by sharing, compiling, and collaborating to answer questions of climate change using more and more data from different areas?
Online Graded Discussion 3:
It's time to wrap up our research project!
1. For your first post (by 11:59pm Wed night), please post a message describing:
a. one new thing that you learned about or learned to appreciate at a deeper level regarding climate change (and its impact on ecosystems).
b. one thing that you learned or skill you gained about scientific research (data analysis? graphing? working in a group? interpreting data? something else?).
**You must post your initial message before you will be able to read and respond to other messages in the Discussion Topic.**
2. For your second post/reply (by 11:59pm Sun night):
Read through your classmates' posts and respond to at least ONE of your classmates' posts to extend/deepen the discussion on either the point regarding climate change/phenology OR conducting scientific research and data analysis. Your comments should include your experiences/thoughts and discuss WHY it is important to understand these concepts and the scientific process in evaluating stories that are presented on the news, radio, newspapers, or online sources (including social media).