Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 22 Issue 01

View Issue TOC
Volume 22, No. 1
Pages 234 - 237

THE OCEANOGRAPHY CLASSROOM • Teaching Strategies that Hook Classroom Learners

Robert J. Feller Christine R. Lotter
First Paragraph

It should not be a surprise to learn that most earth science/oceanography and other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) faculty teach classes the same way they were taught, typically using lectures (Lortie, 1975; Mazur, 2008). If the class has a weekly laboratory, this portion of the course typically consists of confirmatory exercises (i.e., the outcome is known ahead of time, just follow the directions and you should get the answer). Don’t get us wrong—there is nothing particularly evil about good, fact-filled, solid lectures, nor are confirmatory lab exercises necessarily inappropriate ways to teach principles and concepts. It is just that using lecture and recipe-driven labs a majority of the time has been shown to result in poor student retention, less-than-adequate understanding, and an aversion on the part of the students to ask questions and think for themselves (Hammer, 1995; Bransford et al., 2000; Handelsman et al., 2004).


Feller, R.J., and C.R. Lotter. 2009. The oceanography classroom: Teaching strategies that hook classroom learners. Oceanography 22(1):234–237, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2009.28.


Angelo, T.A., and K.P. Cross. 1993. Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers, Second Edition. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA, 448 pp.

Ausubel, D.P. 1960. The use of advance organizers in the learning and retention of meaningful verbal material. Journal of Educational Psychology 51:267–272.

Bransford, J., A. Brown, and R. Cocking, eds. 2000. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 374 pp.

Feller, R.J. 2007. 110 Misconceptions about the ocean. Oceanography 20(4):170–173.

Feller, R.J., C.R. Lotter, and J.E. Singer. 2008. An awakening (Part II): How you can help science education. Oceanography 21 (2):68–71.

Gunstone, R.F., and R.T. White. 1981. Understanding of Gravity. Science Education 65(3):291–299.

Hammer, D. 1995. Student inquiry in a physics class discussion. Cognition and Instruction 13(3):401–430.

Handelsman, J., D. Ebert-May, R. Beichner, P. Bruns, A. Chang, R. DeHaan, J. Gentile, S. Lauffer, J. Stewart, S.M. Tilghman, and W.B. Wood. 2004. Policy Forum: Education: Scientific teaching. Science 304:521–522, doi:10.1126/science.1096022.

Inhelder, B., and J. Piaget. 1958. The Growth of Logical Thinking From Childhood to Adolescence. Basic Books, New York, 356 pp.

Kagan, S. 1994. Cooperative Learning. Kagan Cooperative Learning, San Clemente, CA.

Keeley, P. 2008. Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. National Science Teachers Association Press and Corwin Press, Washington, DC, 233 pp.

Krajcik, J.S., C. Czerniak, and C. Berger. 1999. Teaching Children Science: A Project-Based Approach. McGraw-Hill College, Boston, MA, 356 pp.

Lortie, D. 1975. Schoolteacher: A Sociological Study. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, 284 pp.

Mazur, E. 2008. Farewell, Lecture? Science 323:50–51.

McNeil, K.L., and J.S. Krajcik. 2008. Inquiry and scientific explanations: Helping students use evidence and reasoning. Chapter in J.A. Luft, R.L. Bell, and J. Gess-Newsome, eds, Science as Inquiry in the Secondary Setting, NSTA Press, Arlington, VA.

Nelson, C. 1989. Skewered on the unicorn’s horn: The illusion of tragic tradeoff between content and critical thinking in the teaching of science. Pp. 17–27 in L.W. Crow, ed., Enhancing Critical Thinking in the Sciences, Society of College Science Teachers, Washington, DC.

Gunstone, R.F., and R.T. White. 1981. Understanding of Gravity. Science Education 65(3):291–299.

National Research Council (NRC). 2000. Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards: A Guide for Teaching and Learning. National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 202 pp.

Posner, G.J., Strike, K.A., Hewson, P.W., and W.A. Gertzog. 1982. Accommodation of a scientific conception: Toward a theory of conceptual change. Science Education 66(2):211–227.

Rowe, M.B. 1974. Wait-time and rewards as instructional variables, their influence on language, logic, and fate control: Part one—wait-time. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 11(2):81–94.

Rowe, M.B. 1986. Wait time: Slowing down may be a way of speeding up! Journal of Teacher Education 37(1):43–50.

Smith, M.K., W.B. Wood, W.K. Adams, C. Wieman, J.K. Knight, N. Guild, and T.T. Su. 2008. Why peer discussion improves student performance on in-class concept questions. Science 323:122–124.

White, R.T., and R.F. Gunstone. 1992. Probing Understanding. Routledge, Great Britain, 196 pp.