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Changnon: ‘A Climatologist’s Teaching Journey’

March 17, 2014
Dave Changnon

Dave Changnon

NIU anthropologist Dan Gebo revealed last semester that he likes to bring some college-level “Show and Tell” into his classroom.

Turns out he’s not alone.

David Changnon, a Distinguished Teaching Professor and Board of Trustees Professor from the Department of Geography, is on the same page.

“Many – maybe most – students have little familiarity with the variety of topics teachers are attempting to explain in class and complicated topics are simply complicated,” Changnon says.

“One way to bridge the information gap between students and teachers is to bring items to class,” he adds. “These hands-on learning lessons heighten curiosity, allow one-on-one engagement and may act as a hook to allow teachers to move the discussion in a variety of student interested directions.”

Changnon will deliver a Presidential Teaching Professor Seminar titled “A Climatologist’s Teaching Journey – Improving Forecasts, Adapting to Change!” at noon Monday, March 24, in the Capitol Room of the Holmes Student Center.

Refreshments will be served at 11:30 a.m. The seminar is open to all; no registration is required.

The popular professor hopes his audience gains an appreciation that each student they teach is someone’s child.

David Changnon“Effective teaching-learning environments require you put the student first! I try to treat students as I would want faculty to treat my sons,” he says.

“I try to find ways to thread humor into my lectures, discussions and examples. When it is 9 a.m. on a Monday, you’ve got to do more than just talk at the students,” he adds. “Frequently I test new ways to communicate information to students, and like a weather forecast, some are winners and some are losers. Through reflection, I learn about teaching techniques that work and those that don’t. Teaching for me is a work in progress; it never grows old.”

Changnon, who joined the Department of Geography in 1992, is an atmospheric scientist specializing in climatological studies.

In his favorite undergraduate course – Applications in Climatology – Changnon mentors student groups that develop climatological information and models for use by weather-sensitive decision makers in agriculture, utilities, insurance and transportation. Results from these applied research projects have led to a number of student co-authored publications and presentations.

He has served on various committees of two scientific societies and participated in the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and on a National Research Council (NRC) panel titled “Estimating and Communicating Uncertainty in Weather and Seasonal Climate Forecasts.”

The March 24 presentation is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. For more information, call (815) 753-0595 or email [email protected].