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Conceptual Framework

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Conceptual Framework for Teaching Continental-Scale Ecology

Introduction to the Conceptual Framework

Given that NEON is driven by the NRC environmental grand challenges transforming ecological research, participants agreed that NEON education has to take into account an understanding of

  1. external drivers (forcing) such as climate, land use and invasives;
  2. ecological and organismal responses such as ecosystem, community, organism, genome structure and function;
  3. human cognition, behavior, institutions and outcomes, and;
  4. the mediating interactions between external drivers and internal responses and feedbacks

Critical Concepts for Teaching Ecology at the Continental-Scale

Participants discussed the elements of the framework that will guide the use of continental-scale data in undergraduate teaching and learning. Participants agreed that the foundations of this framework centered round the desired learning outcomes, based on:

  1. process models for specific domains, which include components of ecosystem services, community functioning, biotic structure, human dimensions, all interlinked by long-term and short-term pulses. It is possible to construct a domain model composed of these interactive parts.
  2. concepts (spatial, causality, temporal, variability, abstraction, uncertainty), and skill sets needed for understanding, such as cognitive skills (systems thinking, pattern recognition that includes spatial and temporal attributes, epistemology), and technical/research skills (GIS, analytical, quantitative, visualization, statistics and inference).
  3. relevant pedagogical tools such as concept maps, data sets, case studies and fieldwork.

In general, the curriculum development process involves determining the set of desired outcomes, the selection of the relevant domain-specific process model, identifying the learning challenges associated with the model and the necessary tools and resources to enable learning.

An Interactive Conceptual Framework

The Education using Continental-scale Data conceptual framework is now available in a new interactive format!

The interactive tool, is designed to guide educators toward teaching opportunities and challenges using publically-available continental scale data and is based on input by faculty at  a workshop organized by ESA in partnership with NEON Inc. in 2008. The purpose of the framework is to guide the user through the factors and considerations that go into designing a learning activity that uses continental-scale data.

The full concept map at a glance is available below in two formats.

Education Using Continental-scale Data Concept Map at a Glance v. 2012-0109 [PDF]

Education Using Continental-scale Data Concept Map at a Glance v. 2012-0109 [jpeg]

Interactive Tool Designed by:

Tom Langen, Clarkson University

Brian Wee, NEON Inc.

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