A Model for using Environmental Data‐Driven Inquiry and Exploration to Teach Limnology to Undergraduates

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Limnologists are increasingly using large volumes of data, both from high-frequency sensors as well as long-term studies, to address new research questions. Undergraduate students, i.e., future limnologists and informed citizens, need quantitative reasoning skills and tools to be able to analyze these large datasets. However, most undergraduate curricula typically remains focused on small-scale local studies, potentially contributing to many students’ inability to see the applicability of their classroom experiences (Prokop et al. 2007). In response, we have developed undergraduate teaching modules that integrate the use of high-frequency and long-term datasets from many lakes around the world. Here, we describe two modules that are designed to increase conceptual understanding of climate change and lake metabolism while simultaneously improving quantitative reasoning, building data manipulation skills, and highlighting the inherent variability in real data (Fig. 1). These two modules were developed by a team of limnologists and education researchers committed to improving environmental data literacy in undergraduate classrooms as part of the Environmental Data-Driven Inquiry and Exploration Project (Project EDDIE; http://www.projecteddie.org). In addition to describing the modules, we also share both the students’ and instructors’ experiences during module implementation, and highlight the potential for scaling these modules across different skill levels, both within and across different types of institutions. Our experience suggests that students appreciate the value of high-resolution and long-term data, and that working with large datasets cements the “real world” application of basic freshwater ecology concepts.


Copyright 2015 Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, published by Wiley

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Limnology and Oceanography Bulletin

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Carey, C. C., Darner Gougis, R., Klug, J. L., O'Reilly, C. M., & Richardson, D. C. (2015). A Model for using Environmental Data‐Driven Inquiry and Exploration to Teach Limnology to Undergraduates. Limnology and Oceanography Bulletin, 24(2), 32-35. doi:10.1002/lob.10020.