Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 30 Issue 04

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Volume 30, No. 4
Pages 4 - 5


QUARTERDECK • Using Oceanography in the Classroom—Insight from a Survey of TOS Members

By Ellen S. Kappel  
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In connection with The Oceanography Society’s thirtieth anniversary in mid-​November, TOS sent members an email requesting that they complete a short survey to enable us to understand how they have used Oceanography magazine to support the Society mission to advance education in the ocean sciences. The survey contained just three questions:

1. Have you ever assigned Oceanography articles in the classroom as a basis for discussion?

2. Have you used graphics from Oceanography articles in your lectures?

3. Tell us more about how you use Oceanography articles or special issues in the classroom or for other educational purposes such as informing policymakers or management. Please name specific special issues or articles that you have found most useful for classroom discussions.

We limited the survey to three questions to maximize the number of respondents, and restricted the survey to TOS members to keep things simple and ensure a rapid response. We were rewarded. As of November 29, and within two weeks of its posting, 200 TOS members had taken the survey.

Figures 1 and 2 show the responses to the simple multiple choice questions. Figure 1 shows that nearly half of the survey respondents have used one or more Oceanography articles in the classroom during a semester, with most in the one-to-three article range. Figure 2 shows that about 60% of respondents have used Oceanography graphics in lectures, with a considerable percentage—13.5%—using more than four graphics. These numbers are very satisfying and demonstrate that Oceanography is widely used for educational purposes. One note of caution about these numbers, though: we know from the Question 3 responses that several student members completed the survey, so the number of “never” responses may be artificially high.

After the two simple warm-up questions, the “essay question”—Question 3—provided exactly the sort of specific information we were seeking about how TOS members use Oceanography for education and outreach purposes. Table 1 is a small selection of several of the 143 responses we received to Question 3, edited to fit. In addition to the classroom uses of Oceanography articles described in Table 1, one response said that they “display Oceanography in our undergraduate office where we meet prospective students and their parents. It is a wonderful conversation starter.” Another said: “I use it as an advising tool to orient students interested in careers in marine science.” Another member wrote: “Occasionally use graphics to support new program briefs to management.” Yet another member wrote: “Provide issues from time to time to US Congressperson from my Congressional District, US Senators from my state and Staff (mainly for the staff).” All of the responses will be very useful in helping TOS articulate the broader impacts of Oceanography to current and future sponsors. The answers also provided some ideas about how we may improve the usefulness of articles and graphics—for example, by providing individual graphics that are easily downloaded for classroom use.

Thanks to all of the TOS members who participated in the survey. We were truly overwhelmed by the response. If you did not receive the survey email, or forgot to respond, we would still like to hear from you, especially regarding Question 3. You can email me your response at [email protected], or if you are attending the Ocean Sciences Meeting in February, please come by the TOS booth and share your stories about how you use Oceanography in the classroom and also how we might make the magazine more useful for educational purposes. For those of you who responded to the survey online and will be attending the Ocean Sciences Meeting, come to the TOS booth and chat with us anyway—and also collect your extra beverage coupon.

– Ellen S. Kappel, Editor


Kappel, E.S. 2017. Using Oceanography in the classroom—Insight from a survey of TOS members. Oceanography 30(4):4–5, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2017.400.

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