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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Megan Styles
ENVIR 250
Seattle Campus

Environmental Studies: Data Types and Collection Methods

Introduction to the diversity of methods for collecting and analyzing data used to understand complex environmental issues. Case studies help to illustrate research design processes, and introduce key methods of data collection and analysis relevant to the problem. Prerequisite: minimum grade of 2.0 in ENVIR 100. Offered: AW.

Class description

The course introduces diverse methods for collecting and analyzing data used to understand environmental issues. Students will be taught: 1) How hypotheses and research questions are generated and tested using data and observations. 2) How various methods and data types are used to address environmental research questions. 3) How data and perspectives from multiple disciplines may be integrated to study environmental systems. 4) How data concerning environmental issues are best displayed and communicated. 5) How to critically evaluate environmental data in the media and in peer-reviewed academic articles. Four environmental case studies will be used to guide students through the research design process and introduce key methods of data collection and analysis relevant to the problem. Qualitative and quantitative data are explored with the guidance of a natural and social scientist to explore ways that data are integrated to address environmental problems. Students learn the practical considerations of multiple techniques of data collection and put select methods to use. The course addresses the collection and use of a wide variety of data, such as interviews, surveys, genetics, ecological field studies, water quality monitoring, cost-benefit analysis, meteorology, and archaeology.

Student learning goals

To learn how to ask valuable research questions in environmental studies and gain an understanding of the basic principles of research design. How do you choose the methods that can best address your research questions given various constraints (e.g. time, money, technology, or staff)?

To have a broad understanding of research strategies and data types used in environmental studies. How do you collect, analyze, and integrate data to understand complex social and ecological systems?

To critically analyze the use of environmental data in graphics and publications. How did the author of a popular article or a research study use data to come to a conclusion, and is the conclusion valid?

To learn to effectively communicate research results in graphics and publications. How do you explain your data and results in a way that will allow others to assess the validity of your conclusions and build on your research?

To use data to make informed environmental decisions.

To learn to work as part of a research team by identifying and building on one anotherís strengths and asking/answering complementary questions.

General method of instruction

MWF lecture; Tuesday lab activities (in section)

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Megan Styles
Date: 09/23/2012