Applications of "Integrated Data Viewer'' (IDV) in the classroom
Conventionally, weather products utilized in synoptic meteorology reduce phenomena occurring in four dimensions to a 2-dimensional form. This constitutes a road-block for non-atmospheric-science majors who need to take meteorology as a non-mathematical and complementary course to their major programs. This research examines the use of Integrated Data Viewer-IDV as a teaching tool, as it allows a 4-dimensional representation of weather products. IDV was tested in the teaching of synoptic meteorology, weather analysis, and weather map interpretation to non-science students in the laboratory sessions of an introductory meteorology class at Western Michigan University. Comparison of student exam scores according to the laboratory teaching techniques, i.e., traditional lab manual and IDV was performed for short- and long-term learning. Results of the statistical analysis show that the Fall 2004 students in the IDV-based lab session retained learning. However, in the Spring 2005 the exam scores did not reflect retention in learning when compared with IDV-based and MANUAL-based lab scores (short term learning, i.e., exam taken one week after the lab exercise). Testing the long-term learning, seven weeks between the two exams in the Spring 2005, show no statistically significant difference between IDV-based group scores and MANUAL-based group scores. However, the IDV group obtained exam score average slightly higher than the MANUAL group. Statistical testing of the principal hypothesis in this study, leads to the conclusion that the IDV-based method did not prove to be a better teaching tool than the traditional paper-based method. Future studies could potentially find significant differences in the effectiveness of both manual and IDV methods if the conditions had been more controlled. That is, students in the control group should not be exposed to the weather analysis using IDV during lecture.