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This paper describes the author's modifications to an introductory college oceanography class of forty-eight students in order to add field-based projects as a significant component of the course. The field-based focus serves as the major theme around which lecture topics and lab activities are designed and implemented. Students learn oceanographic concepts in lecture and practice using oceanographic equipment and data analysis methods in lab. Student-designed field projects are then carried out on one of several local lakes. Assessment of the modified course indicates that the benefits to students include improved critical thinking skills, an increase in oceanographic knowledge, greater confidence in the use of instrumentation, high interest in field-based projects and positive experiences with the process of scientific inquiry.
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