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Project Impact

Established with NSF funding, the On the Cutting Edge Professional Development program pioneered the integration of workshops that benefit individual participants with the production of enduring on-line resources that allow a broader audience to benefit from the workshop activity. On the Cutting Edge developed models for both face-to-face and virtual workshops ranging from one to six days in length and offered 56 workshops between 2002 and 2009. 1751 faculty, post-docs, and graduate students participated in one or more workshops. More than 20% of the participants came to two or more workshops for a total of 2246 workshop participant-seats. Approximately 25% of the geoscience faculty in the U.S. and more than half the departments in the United States have participated. The reach of the workshops was in proportion to the different types of departments, with the exception of two-year colleges which were underrepresented. On the Cutting Edge workshop participants included a higher percentage of women and members of underrepresented groups than in the overall population of U.S. geoscience faculty. End-of-workshop evaluations indicate a high level of participant satisfaction with a median of 9.1 on a 10-point scale.

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The On the Cutting Edge online collection of teaching activities and other resources supported those who attended the workshops, provided a venue for sharing teaching resources, and extended the reach of Cutting Edge to those who had not attended a workshop. The web collection included over 4000 pages, 33 topical collections, and more than 1200 community-contributed teaching activities at the completion of this project.

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In 2008, more than half a million users visited the website and approximately 12,000 visited 10 or more pages in a single session. Approximately 25% of users are geoscience faculty with the remaining 75% comprised of faculty from other disciplines, K-12 teachers from geoscience and other disciplines, undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, and others. Approximately 30% of U.S. geoscience faculty use the website to find teaching ideas and materials, to compare their own teaching to that of others, to learn about teaching methods or geoscience topics, and to obtain information about career planning.

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Users report that the website increases their confidence in trying new teaching methods. We estimate that only 35% of geoscience faculty using the website have attended a workshop. The website received a 2009 Geoscience Information Society award for best educational website and is also a recipient of the AAAS Science Prize for Online Research in Education (SPORE).

Reports and Publications about the Project

  • Manduca, Cathryn A., Basil Tikoff, Sara Hotchkiss, The Evolving Nature of Collaboration in the Geological Sciences: Geological Society of America Special Papers, 2013, 502, p. 153-164.
  • Tewksbury, Barbara, Cathryn A. Manduca, David W. Mogk, R. Heather Macdonald, Geoscience Education for the Anthropocene: Geological Society of America Special Papers, 2013, 501, p. 189-201.
  • Narum, Jeanne and Manduca, Cathy (2012) Workshops and Networks in Brainbridge, William Sims, editor, Leadership in Science and Technology, A Reference Handbook. ISBN 978-1-4129-7688-6 p. 443-451