Charge to discussion leaders

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To a significant degree, our success in GEOG8280 will depend on our ability to work together to summarize, evaluate and synthesize concepts and results from a diverse set of scientific articles. As discussion leaders, you are responsible for preparing a brief 'high-level' introduction to each of the assigned readings. This introduction (which will not take more than 5 minutes) should outline the most important aspects of the article. What was the motivation for the study? What data or tools did it use (observations, proxies or models)? What were its main findings (especially those that relate to decadal variability)?

You are not required to present the group with a detailed summary of each article (and if you try, I'll stop you).

I would generally prefer that you do not prepare extensive sets of slides in PowerPoint or Keynote. The only exception might be cases where you would like to show one or two results from another study not included in our weekly readings.

Questions are often the best way to get discussion started. I suggest that you prepare 2 or 3 questions for each article in advance of our class meeting. Your questions could either be 'big' or 'small', either addressing a specific or technical aspect of the study or connecting its findings to broader issues. To get you started, here are three examples of questions related to our first reading:

Garreaud, R.D. and Battisti, D.S. (1999), Interannual (ENSO) and interdecadal (ENSO- like) variability in the Southern Hemisphere tropospheric circulation. Journal of Climate 12, 2113-2123.
If the goal of this analysis is to study decadal and interdecadal variability, why is it necessary to deal with ENSO? How is decadal ENSO-like variability similar to ENSO? In what ways is it dissimilar? What impacts do the authors expect that decadal ENSO-like variability would have on the climate of North America?

You may need to look beyond our assigned readings. it may be helpful to examine the articles' supplementary information (if it has any) or to consult other articles on related topics.

Remember, you're only responsible for guiding discussion. You 're not required to create content to fill our entire 3-hour session.


The discussion leaders are responsible for getting things started. The rest of us are responsible to keep the discussion active and interesting. Read each paper closely so you understand its goals, approaches and main conclusions. If there are terms, concepts or data sources that you haven't been able to figure out on your own, present the problem to the group and we'll work through it together. None of us are experts on all aspects of the research we'll review through the semester but together we should be able to fill in gaps in our individual knowledge.

Be sure to always bring copies of the readings for each week. In my experience, having printed copies (with annotations) makes for better discussions, but I understand if you'd prefer to save paper (and money) by viewing the articles electronically.

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This page contains a single entry by Scott St. George published on September 9, 2012 12:51 PM.

Link to readings was the previous entry in this blog.

Slides: Lecture 2, The role of the ocean is the next entry in this blog.

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