Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 31 Issue 04

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Volume 31, No. 4
Pages 182 - 183

THE OCEANOGRAPHY CLASSROOM • Leveraging Student Experience with Water for Active Learning in a Large Introductory Oceanography Classroom

Rebecca Freeman
First Paragraph

My 100+ “Blue Planet” introductory oceanography students and I file in as the Human Nutrition class files out of our auditorium-style classroom, typical for general education courses at our large state institution. About three weeks into the semester, this noisy and disorganized changing of the guard occurs as meal plans are turned in at the back of the room and an impromptu question about tides leads to a diagram on the whiteboard at the front. Students are in my classroom twice a week for two reasons. First, they must take a science class despite the tenuous connection between science and fashion merchandising. Second, they are possibly avoiding sciences that they have decided are “hard” (physics and chemistry), and they think oceanography might be interesting. After all, they always enjoy Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, and have even watched some of that BBC Blue Planet series for which the class is named. Easy A, with dolphins and sharks, right?


Freeman, R. 2018. Leveraging student experience with water for active learning in a large introductory oceanography classroom. Oceanography 31(4):182–183, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2018.423.

Supplementary Materials

> Lesson: PowerPoint (11.8 MB .pptx) or Video (YouTube TOS Channel)
> Worksheet (79 KB pdf)
> Paper-Free Worksheet Substitute (15 MB .pptx)
Answer Key and Teaching Notes (50 KB pdf) — includes ideas for modifications for various educational settings


Clarke, A. 2017. Water. Pp. 82–102 in Principles of Thermal Ecology: Temperature, Energy and Life. Oxford University Press.

Freeman, S., S.L. Eddy, M. McDonough, M.K. Smith, N. Okoroafor, H. Jordt, and M.P. Wenderoth. 2013. Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences of the United States of America 11(23):8,410–8,415, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1319030111.

Herreid, C.F., and N.A. Schiller. 2013. Case studies and the flipped classroom. Journal of College Science Teaching 42(5):62–66.

McConnell, D.A., L. Chapman, C.D. Czajka, J.P. Jones, K.D. Ryker, and J. Wiggen. 2017. Instructional utility and learning efficacy of common active learning strategies. Journal of Geoscience Education 64(4):604–625, https://doi.org/​10.5408/17-249.1.