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Jason Paul Finley, Ph.D., CCM, GISP

Associate Professor of Geography/Meteorology
Los Angeles Pierce College

Hi everyone!
Welcome to my faculty webpage. I am Dr. Jason Paul Finley, Associate Professor of Geography & Meteorology at Los Angeles Pierce College. I also run the Pierce College Weather Station. I began teaching at Pierce in 2008, and was hired full time in 2011. I have been a weather enthusiast since I was 5 years old from growing up near Chicago. I received my B.S. in Meteorology from Northern Illinois University in 2002, an M.A. in Geography/Atmospheric Sciences from UCLA in 2005, and a Ph.D. in Adult Learning/Development specializing in Meteorology/Science Education from Lesley University in 2016. I am currently pursuing an M.S. degree in Geosciences with an Applied Meteorology concentration from MSU (expected 2022).  I believe in lifelong learning as an adult, so continuing my education to utilize adult learning principles and keep relevant in the fields of Geosciences, Meteorology, and Geography is important to me. See my official biography below.  I hope you enjoy my site.

Bio

My name is Dr. Jason Finley, Professor of Geography/Meteorology at Los Angeles Pierce College in Woodland Hills, CA. I am also the Director of the Pierce College Weather Station on campus www.piercecollegeweather.com, and an adjunct instructor of Marine Meteorology at USC.  I have a B.S. in Meteorology with a Mathematics minor (from Northern Illinois University), an M.A. in Geography with Synoptic Weather, Climate Dynamics, and GIS emphases (from UCLA), and a Ph.D. in Adult Learning/Development specializing in Meteorology/Science Education (from Lesley University in Boston/Cambridge, MA). I am also taking graduate-level applied meteorology classes (e.g., climate change) to keep myself updated with the latest research in my field (with the option of earning an M.S. in Geosciences from MSU with an Applied Meteorology concentration).

 

My doctoral research focused on elements of dialogue education in increasing long-term learning of and engagement in severe/hazardous weather.  I am in the process of writing a journal article (and maybe a book) on using this approach in STEM subjects and the changes in the brain due to deep learning. 


I grew up near Chicago and fell in love with the extreme weather of the U.S. Midwest as a kid. I attended Joliet Junior College (the first community college in the nation) which solidified my goal to become a meteorologist.  While getting my B.S. degree, I studied and chased severe thunderstorms and tornadoes through research projects conducted by the University of Oklahoma and Pennsylvania State University. I then moved to California in 2002 to attend UCLA for my Master's in Geography (originally I was in the Atmospheric Science program, but later switched to Geography so I could teach at a community college.  Geography is much more common than meteorology at both two-year and four-year schools). 

 

At the same time, I began teaching geography and meteorology classes at UCLA, and have been teaching ever since (at UCLA, USC, and local community colleges - more than 17 years). After graduating from UCLA in 2005, I also worked in the private sector as a GIS analyst and consulting meteorologist. I did this full-time until 2011, and became a Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM) and a Certified GIS Professional (GISP) along the way. I started teaching at Pierce College part-time in 2008 and full-time in 2011.  I earned tenure in 2015.

In my spare time, I enjoy listening and writing music, hiking, traveling, and reading (both fiction and nonfiction).

 

Overview of Courses*
Fall 2019

* I also teach Geog/Meteor 3 (Introduction to Weather and Climate), Geog 19/Meteor 4 (Introductory Meteorology Laboratory), Geography 23/Meteorology 5 (Severe and Hazardous Weather), Geog/GIS 33 (Intermediate GIS Applications), and Geog/GIS 38 (Spatial Analysis and Modeling) on a fairly regular basis.

Introduction to Physical Geography

This course studies the earth's physical environment using an Earth Systems Science approach. Emphasis is given to earth-sun relationships, atmosphere-hydrosphere interactions related to weather and climate, lithospheric processes and geomorphology, integration of climate, soils and biomes, and their spatial patterns. Tools used for geographic inquiry may include maps, satellite imagery, geographic information systems, and field investigations.

Introduction to Physical Geography (Online)

This course studies the earth's physical environment using an Earth Systems Science approach. Emphasis is given to earth-sun relationships, atmosphere-hydrosphere interactions related to weather and climate, lithospheric processes and geomorphology, integration of climate, soils and biomes, and their spatial patterns. Tools used for geographic inquiry may include maps, satellite imagery, geographic information systems, and field investigations. Because this is an online course, assignments are a mix of open-ended discussion posts graded based on rubrics, and closed-ended, auto-graded quizzes and exams.  There may be an assigned field trip.

Physical Geography Laboratory

This course involves plotting, interpolating, and interpreting data of earth-sun relations; time, earth representation through globes and maps; temperature, moisture, pressure, climate, natural vegetation, soil groups, and landform evolution by tectonic force, erosion, and deposition.  The course focuses on applying concepts from Geography 1 (Introduction to Physical Geography).

Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

This course focuses on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which manage and analyze spatial data, and are valuable tools in addressing various real-world problems that have a spatial component. This course introduces students to fundamental principles and concepts that underpin the practice of sound geographic analysis with GIS, including: computer representation of geographic data, vector and raster data models, map projections, coordinate systems, spatial analysis, and map design. Students will apply the theoretical underpinnings of GIS by practicing those concepts and techniques in the laboratory portion of the course. The GIS software ArcGIS 10.3 is used.

 

Published Work (A Sample)

Exploring Meteorology Education in Community College: Lecture-based Instruction and Dialogue-based Group Learning (Doctoral Dissertation)

August 2016

This study examined the impact of dialogue-based group instruction on student learning and engagement in community college meteorology education.  A quasi-experimental design was used to compare lecture-based instruction with dialogue-based group instruction during two class sessions at one community college in southern California.  Pre- and post-tests were used to measure learning and interest, while surveys were conducted two days after the learning events to assess engagement, perceived learning, and application of content.  The results indicated that the dialogue-based group instruction was more successful in helping students learn than the lecture-based instruction.  Each question that assessed learning had a higher score for the dialogue group that was statistically significant (alpha < 0.05) compared to the lecture group.  The survey questions about perceived learning and application of content also exhibited higher scores that were statistically significant for the dialogue group. The qualitative portion of these survey questions supported the quantitative results and showed that the dialogue students were able to remember more concepts and apply these concepts to their lives.


Dialogue students were also more engaged, as three out of the five engagement-related survey questions revealed statistically significantly higher scores for them.  The qualitative data also supported increased engagement for the dialogue students.  Interest in specific meteorological topics did not change significantly for either group of students; however, interest in learning about severe weather was higher for the dialogue group. Neither group found the learning events markedly meaningful, although more students from the dialogue group found pronounced meaning centered on applying severe weather knowledge to their lives.  Active engagement in the dialogue approach kept these students from becoming distracted and allowed them to become absorbed in the learning event.  This higher engagement most likely contributed to the resulting higher learning. Together, these results indicate that dialogue education, especially compared to lecture methods, has a great potential for helping students learn meteorology.  Dialogue education can also help students engage in weather-related concepts and potentially develop better-informed citizens in a world with a changing climate.

A Precipitation-Induced Landslide Susceptibility Model for Natural Gas Transmission Pipelines
(The 2010 8th International Pipeline Conference)

September 2010

Landslides related to heavy rainfall can cause extensive damage to natural gas transmission pipelines. We have developed and implemented a geographic information system (GIS) model that evaluates near real-time precipitation-induced landslide susceptibility. This model incorporates state-wide precipitation data and geologically-based landslide classifications to produce rapid landslide risk evaluation for Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s (PG&E) gas transmission system during winter rain storms in California. The precipitation data include pre-storm event quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPF) and post-storm event quantitative precipitation estimates (QPE) from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The geologic classifications are based on slope, susceptible geologic formations, and the locations of historic or known landslide occurrences. Currently the model is calibrated using qualitative measures. Various scientists have developed large landslide databases with associated rainfall statistics to determine rainfall thresholds that trigger landslides. With a sufficient number of landslides, we can more precisely determine minimum rainfall thresholds using similar methods.

The Relationship between El Niño and the Duration and Frequency of the Santa Ana Winds of Southern California
(The Professional Geographer)

May 2007

This study examines the variability of the duration and frequency of Santa Ana winds due to El Niño over a thirty-three-year period. Daily Weather Maps and NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis were used to study large-scale upper-level and surface circulation patterns during wind events. A Student's t-test was used to determine statistically significant changes in the winds during March of El Niño winters. A significant decrease in the duration and frequency of wind events was found in March during El Niño. This can be attributed to the decrease in strength and frequency of the Great Basin high pressure and the increase in wintertime cyclones in southern California.

 

Campus and Weather Station Location

6201 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills, CA 91371

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