Sara Harris is a Professor of Teaching in the department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and a 3M National Teaching Fellow. She has a PhD in oceanography from Oregon State University and a research background in paleoceanography and paleoclimate. During seven years as a chief scientist at Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, she studied modern oceans and sailed thousands of miles with undergraduate students. Since 2007, she has been a Departmental Director for the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at UBC, a major effort to improve undergraduate learning in science by implementing evidence-based, student-focused pedagogy. Sara's current research explores how people learn climate science. She teaches a MOOC on edx.org called "Climate Change: The Science" and she is a co-author of Understanding Climate Change: Science, Policy, and Practice.
Industry Expertise (3)
Areas of Expertise (9)
Energy Systems and Public Policy
3M National Teaching Fellowship (professional)
2015 Awarded by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and 3M Canada to recognize exceptional contributions to teaching and learning in Canadian post-secondary education.
Killam Teaching Prize (professional)
2011 Awarded by the University of British Columbia.
Undergraduate Instructor of the Year Award (professional)
2007 Awarded by Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of British Columbia.
Jim Millinger Award for Excellence in Teaching (professional)
2005 Awarded by the Sea Education Association.
Oregon State University: Ph.D., Oceanography 1998
Wesleyan University: B.A., Earth Science 1991
Media Appearances (4)
A Nobel Laureate's Education Plea: Revolutionize Teaching
National Public Radio radio
Ironically, it was one of his lectures on the death of lectures that inspired a professor of teaching there, Sara Harris to put aside her research on paleoceanography to work full time on improving science education ...
Conversations that Matter: Dr. Sara Harris a senior instructor at the department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science at UBC
Vancouver Sun online
B.C. fire season flares up early forcing province to turn down Alberta request for help
Sara Harris, a senior instructor in UBC’s department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, said data suggest that over the long term wildfire seasons around the world are getting worse ...
How to build a world-wide classroom
Sara Harris’s mission is to shake up the usual method of science education, which she describes as, “listen, write notes and try to make sense of it later” ...
Event Appearances (5)
Overcoming the Obstacles to Teaching Reform
Earth Educators' Rendezvous Madison, WI
Dirty Slates: Student Ideas as Catalysts for Learning
Vancouver Island University Teaching and Learning Conference Nanaimo, BC
The Change in Climate Change
A Taste of Pi Series, Simon Fraser University Vancouver, BC
(Re)Designing Your Course For Improved Student Learning
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, CA
Online and Hybrid Learning Workshop
Earth Educators’ Rendezvous Boulder, CO
A New Tool for Measuring Student Behavioral Engagement in Large University ClassesJournal of College Science Teaching
2015 We developed a classroom observation protocol for quantitatively measuring student engagement in large university classes. The Behavioral Engagement Related to Instruction (BERI) protocol can be used to provide timely feedback to instructors as to how they can improve student engagement in their classrooms.
A Massive Open Online Course on climate change: The social construction of a global problem using new tools for connectednessWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
2014 Climate change is a pervasive and challenging phenomenon that takes on a variety of meanings and frames, each of which suggests different victims, villains, and solutions. New tools are emerging that may facilitate a reframing, or at least the collaborative coproduction, of the climate change conversation.
Measuring student knowledge of landscapes and their formation timespanJournal of Geoscience Education
2013 Geologic time is a crucial component of any geoscientist's training. Essential knowledge of geologic time includes rates of geologic processes and the associated time it takes for geologic features to form, yet measuring conceptual thinking abilities in these domains is challenging. We describe development and initial application of the Landscape Identification and Formation Test (LIFT), a concept inventory for measuring abilities to identify landscapes and their formation timespans.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Multiple Instructors to Teach Single CoursesCollege Teaching
2012 We set out to identify the benefits and drawbacks of using more than one instructor to teach single section science courses at a large research university. Nine courses were investigated involving widely differing subjects and levels.
Transforming the lowest performing students; an intervention that workedJournal of College Science Teaching
2012 We conducted a small-scale study to investigate if a brief timely intervention focusing on specific study strategies would improve student performance in university science courses.