EDITOR’S NOTE: The Office of the Provost is pleased to start a new series of profiles about faculty at Georgia State University. In this series, we will take a look at faculty across the institution who are helping to make Georgia State the institution that it has become: a premier research university that has created national models for student success, is growing an interdisciplinary and pioneering research profile, and is building innovation in teaching and learning. We hope that you enjoy reading this series. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us here.
— Jeremy Craig, Communications Manager, Office of the Provost
Dr. Ricardo Nogueira seeks out technological innovations in his classroom in order to offer the best course and content to his students, and in the process better prepares them to be real-world critical thinkers.
Nogueira’s interest in climate began in his youth, growing up in Brazil. He attended the Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil, studying Meteorology. It was here that he found his love for teaching.
“I began by teaching high school meteorology, but later started work as a weather channel meteorologist in broadcasting. We had segments on the show called ‘Meteorology A to Z.’” Nogueira said viewers could send in questions about anything related to Meteorology, and he would explain concepts to them.
Nogueira fell in love with teaching during his time working as an instructor and wanted to pursue it further. When he eventually transitioned from secondary teaching and broadcast meteorology into the realm of higher education, Nogueira began noticing patterns in his classrooms at Georgia State that demanded change. He decided to innovate.
Nogueira defines innovation as “a form of evolution.” He said that his students change each semester, evolving alongside society. His ways of teaching and communicating to students have to adapt, too.
One of the ways Nogueira did this was developing his own textbook via TopHat, a technological outlet allowing professors to integrate more engaging lectures and lessons into the classroom. “I noticed that when students were using a normal textbook, I felt a gap in the way the textbook was reading and what I was teaching—and they were also very expensive as well.”
The textbook he created allows students to use their own smartphones, laptops or tablets to interact with the content in familiar ways, for far less of a cost. “This alone improved students’ grades.”
But creating a virtual textbook specific to his course was not enough—Nogueira wanted to make full use of the technology students were using in the classroom. “Students were using their technology in the classroom as a distraction,” Nogueira said. “They weren’t really there.”
He immediately set out to find a way to keep students engaged and interested in class. “In my lectures, I have questions. They’re called ‘extrinsic motivation.’” Nogueira said that these questions help students retain information that they have just been taught and may help clear up any uncertainty around certain topics in class. Students can interact mid-lecture using their smart devices, like phones or tablets.
In addition to this, Nogueira has added a new feature to his interactive lectures for the 2019 fall semester. “Students can text their questions in on their cellphones so I can look and see what parts of my lectures were unclear, and I can go back and revisit those sections,” he said. “Students will have more confidence in asking questions this way, as well.”
In terms of further innovation, Nogueira said he is always looking for ways to improve—but technology, unlike weather, is hard to forecast. “There are parts of my classroom and learning experience that did not even exist five years ago.”
He said there’s simply no way of knowing what will be at his disposal in the matter of a few years—but that is part of the excitement. “We could have 3-D virtual images in the classroom in as little as five years from now,” Nogueira said. But for now, he works with the newest tech that he can.
Teaching a science course for non-science majors, Nogueira said he recognizes that many of the students in his courses are often there because they’re taking the class to fulfill a requirement of the core curriculum, and not because of a passion for the field. Knowing that, Nogueira said he realizes most students don’t share his love for weather and climate. So, he has a different goal.
Students are constantly faced with over-exaggerated news stories, misleading headlines and sources lacking facts. He points to the growing concern regarding the burning of the Amazon rainforest as an example. He said that many news sources reporting on this event are sensationalizing the content. “This kind of burning has happened before in Brazil. But the news outlets are not mentioning this.” Nogueira said to combat this, he aims to give students the tools to sift through this information themselves.
“I want students to walk away with a new curiosity about the world around them and the ability to question things,” he said.
He said he wants students to always read news closely, question it, and look for the truth and facts. If students leave his class with better critical thinking skills than they came in with, Nogueira believes his time with them has been a success.
– Braden Turner, Graduate Administrative Assistant, Office of the Provost