TITLE : Embedding communication concepts in forecasting training increases students’ understanding of ecological uncertainty Submitted as an Article to Ecosphere , Eco-Education TrackAUTHOR LIST: Whitney M. Woelmera*, Tadhg N. Moorea,b11Present address: School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland, Mary E. Loftona, R. Quinn Thomasa,b, and Cayelan C. CareyaaDepartment of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USAbDepartment of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA*Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.orgOPEN RESEARCH STATEMENT : This study collected and analyzed human subject data and was approved by the Virginia Tech Institutional Review Board (19-669) and the Carleton College Institutional Review Board (19-20 065). Data for this study have been anonymized and aggregated and can be found at Woelmer (2023) along with all code to reproduce the analysis and figures within this study.Woelmer, W. 2023. Wwoelmer/module8_public_ecosphere: Ecosphere submission March 2023 (v1.0). Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7733965KEYWORDS : active learning, ecology education, ecological forecast, Macrosystems EDDIE, R Shiny, teaching modules, translational ecology, undergraduate curricula, visualization literacyABSTRACT : Communicating and interpreting uncertainty in ecological model predictions is notoriously challenging, motivating the need for new educational tools which introduce ecology students to core concepts in uncertainty communication. Ecological forecasting, an emerging approach to estimate future states of ecological systems with uncertainty, provides a relevant and engaging framework for introducing uncertainty communication to undergraduate students, as forecasts can be used as decision support tools for addressing real-world ecological problems and are inherently uncertain. To provide critical training on uncertainty communication and introduce undergraduate students to the use of ecological forecasts for guiding decision-making, we developed a hands-on teaching module within the Macrosystems EDDIE (Environmental Data-Driven Inquiry and Exploration; MacrosystemsEDDIE.org) educational program. Our module used an active learning approach by embedding forecasting activities in an R Shiny application to engage introductory students in data science, ecological modeling, and forecasting without needing advanced computational or programming skills. Pre- and post-module assessment data from >250 undergraduate ecology students indicate that the module significantly increased students’ ability to interpret forecast visualizations with uncertainty, identify different ways to communicate forecast uncertainty for diverse users, and correctly define ecological forecasting terms. Specifically, students were more likely to describe visual, numeric, and probabilistic methods of uncertainty communication following module completion. Students were also able to identify more benefits of ecological forecasting following module completion, with the key benefits of using forecasts for prediction and decision-making most commonly described. These results show promise for introducing ecological model uncertainty, data visualizations, and forecasting into undergraduate ecology curricula via software-based learning, which can increase students’ ability to engage and understand complex ecological concepts.