Teach the Earth > Geodesy > Workshop 2010 > Workshop Summary

Workshop Summary

Teaching Geodesy in the 21st Century

Objectives - Our goals were to help college-level teachers incorporate geodesy and new teaching techniques into their courses. We had seventeen enthusiastic and engaged participants including professors, teachers, a post doc, and a grad. student.

Geodesy in the 21st Century

Shimon Wdowinsky introduced different geodetic methods and applications such as:

  • Quantifying glacial isostatic rebound using GPS
  • Mapping landslides more accurately using LIDAR
  • Measuring wetland water level changes using InSAR
  • Quantifying sea level change and river levels using altimetry
  • Observing surface subsidence due to groundwater aquifer depletion with GRACE

See the EOS article (Acrobat (PDF) 542kB Mar5 10) for more.

Using Data in Large Classes

Anne Sheehan led the group through an exercise of mapping velocity vectors across the San Andreas Fault using PBO GPS data.

Slides and exercise are available at the UNAVCO website.

Can you tell which way the GPS station is moving in Figure 3?

Giving Interactive Lectures

Val Sloan illustrated some ways of engaging students:

  • Rather than telling the students that you're showing a slide of a fault, first ask students to make observations and discuss them with a neighbor. Now discuss with the class.
  • Use Clickers to engage students, test comprehension, and encourage peer discussion before the students click in their answer. Follow-up with a class discussion (important!).
  • Walk around the room and ask questions frequently
  • Vary your voice (up & down) and use light humor, anecdotes related to field experiences or lecture topic
  • Use case studies & stories to give context to concepts

Can you answer the clicker question in the figure to the right?

A clicker question from an introductory physical geology class. Assessing Authentic Learning

Susan Eriksson inspired us on how assessment promotes learning and informs teaching, especially when goals, assignments, and assessments are aligned. She presented a variety of types of assessment tools beyond traditional ones, including:

  • Peer review - having students assess themselves and each other
  • Concept maps - diagramming to assess how well students see the "big picture."
  • Concept tests - conceptual multiple choice questions that are useful in large classes.


Rolling up Their Sleeves

Participants evaluated and critiqued two UNAVCO worksheets (presented by S. Olds and V. Sloan), providing incisive insight on how to improve them. Then, breaking into groups of three or four, participants took turns evaluating each others' assignments and discussing potential improvements. In the process, participants were able to find out who might be good contacts for learning more about geodesy in their content area, and so some valuable networking was accomplished.

After spending some time individually working on a plan for modifying their own assignment, the group reconvened and discussed which geodetic concepts they thought are the most important to include in introductory geosciences courses (to be posted on the workshop website).

Additional Resources

For articles and ideas on active/Inquiry based learning and interactive teaching, go to: Active Learning (UNC)

For ideas on "How to give interactive lectures," go to: SERC: Interactive Teaching

Workshop Conveners:

Susan Eriksson, UNAVCO
Valerie Sloan, UNAVCO
Barb Tewksbury, Hamilton College
Shimon Wdowinski, University of Miami