Teaching and current events

What I like most about teaching ‘Atmospheric Chemistry’ (this semester again at McGill) is the fact that current examples are always at hand: Discussing biogenic aerosols? A dust storm is never far away! Temperature inversions and increased pollutant concentrations in the PBL? Just look to the South-Western US!

In a nutshell – when talking about atmospheric processes, these examples make the taught material relevant and important for students. And in the best of cases they bring these events to class for further discussion, such as recently during a Sudden Stratospheric Warming event (including the opportunity to discuss and rectify some serious mistakes in the article).

Teaching in the current context at its best (and I have not even talked about research papers that are published every week and warrant a discussion in class!)

Some more teaching

In addition to teaching labs at Bishop’s University (this semester Analytical Chemistry and Physical Chemistry), I will be teaching “Atmospheric Chemistry” at McGill University (ATOC/CHEM 219).

Check out the ad: ATOC219 Course Advertisement (and spread the word, if you like!)

Some items to keep from the Course Design workshop…

The Course Design workshop I took at McGill Teaching and Learning Services is done and it was a formidable experience. It was a good reminder for several issues that I first discussed during an earlier workshop in 2008.

Here are a couple of keywords about things to investigate in more detail (again):

I also noticed that a lot of methodology originating from the non-profit sector and professional training increasingly find their way into university teaching!

Introductory Atmospheric Science

I taught a class at McGill today – ATOC-210: Simple, straight forward and good fun! Best was that I could focus on the teaching rather than the administrative issues that tend to take over during the semester 🙂 Topic was chapter 3 – Seasonal and Daily Temperatures

Meteorology today

All my regular teaching at Concordia University is now done. This term is dedicated to research and it looks as if I am going to be busy (I am already).

Busy week …

… on the teaching and research side of things!

  • The first assignment is in, but I am already almost done marking – things went quite smoothly. A few students asked for extensions and all I wait for is for these last assignments to come in. Midterms are also coming up the week after next (study break in between), but there will not be any “leftovers” for me to mark
  • The deadline for the proposal that I co-wrote with my former advisor is finally here and I was quite busy filling forms yesterday evening. I finally got my hands on a version of Acrobat that let me save the filled forms; it is a pain that you can’t do that with the reader, because with the budget and summaries,… to fill in there are usually changes to be made.

Next week is the study break!

What’s new on the research front?

Well – there are quite a few things going on. My teaching load is considerably lighter this semester, so I can tie up a few loose ends on my research.

  •  My draft about the snow work in Quebec is coming along that there is only a tiny section missing; the manuscript describes the determination of VOC concentrations in snow and from the data I would like to calculate sorption coefficients to estimate deposition from the atmosphere.
  • I co-author a proposal on bio-aerosols in snow that should get done next week, since the deadline is looming
  • I have fine-tuned my dossier apart from updates such as new publications, since I get a better and better idea, what I would like to do in the future

I might have to put things on the back-burner, when the first assignment comes in next week, but student numbers are down, since I have one fewer course to teach, so I am hopeful to make some considerable progress until the summer.

3 Weeks into the new semester…

… and here is the first post, which kind of summarises my work so far: Well, the good  news is that I managed to finish marking my exams in 2007 – so I could concentrate on the lectures that I teach this semester. The bad news is that this semester started on Jan 3 already, so not much of a break. I did find a couple of days, however, to relax and recharge my batteries. Concerning teaching, things are running a lot smoother. I have only 2 courses to teach and taught these already last year. So the framework of the lecture is set up and running quite smoothly. There are, however, a few things that I have changed, especially in my approach to help students learn a bit better (at least I hope that is going to be the case):

  •  I have initiated Strategic Learning Sessions, which are small group sessions with senior student leader held 3x/week. Problem solving and discussion of lecture topics make up these sessions. So far feedback was encouraging and attendance is growing.
  • I have added elements of peer instruction into my lectures in order to foster better understanding of the concepts taught. Feedback from students was positive and I will continue to add these exercises from time to time.

Lots of news on the research side of things as well – but these have to wait a little longer. 

Marking exams … (and some poster feedback)

… and slowly there is an end in sight. Lecture 1 is done; lecture 2 is partly done. Compiling the marks takes a while – with all sorts of exemptions, medical notes,… to be taken care of. So I take some “homework” with me into the Christmas break :-( 

On a related note – a former co-worker has presented 2 posters for me at this fall’s AGU meeting in San Francisco – I could not go, because of my teaching commitments. He got interesting feedback for me and quite a few new contacts, so I am looking forward to his report to work on the comments.

Lectures done for the term…

and I am a bit sad that things have come to an end for this fall. Exams are ahead and I will hold extended office hours for student questions. I have posted some more material for both courses I currently teach, including sets of problems to solve and sample final exams. I am a bit skeptical about sample finals – for the moment I continue to provide them, because students ask me. Although they provide the structure of the final (with regard to length and level of difficulty), they also provide a false sense of security, because the material covered in the sample final will not necessarily show up this way in the final (if even!). So doing well in the sample final does not mean that a student will be doing well on the final … anyway – I will monitor the situation closely 😉 before making a final decision!