Teaching About Rates and Time
Learning goals | Assessing learning | Pedagogical approaches & considerations | Resource collections | Workshops & Events | Get involved
Incorporating Rates and Time in Courses
1. Choose learning goals
Learning Goals for Geologic Time is a list of possible learning objectives related to temporal concepts, based on the key ideas in the Earth Science Literacy Principles. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of possible learning goals, but it may help you to articulate your own list. Learn more about setting effective course goals in the Course Design Tutorial.
2. Consider assessment options
Assessing Temporal Thinking and Learning is a critically important component of teaching about rates and time. This page links to existing assessment instruments, including a baseline assessment for finding out where your students are starting from, and also has suggestions for developing your own assessments.
3. Select pedagogies and specific teaching activities
The pedagogical approaches and considerations highlighted below can help you think through what topics are likely to be particularly challenging for your students and what methods have proven successful in teaching about those topics. The resource collections that follow are organized to provide a rich set of materials to draw from in constructing the specific set of learning experiences you want for your students.
Pedagogical Approaches and Considerations
- Using Analogies to Teach about Time summarizes best practices for teaching with analogies (based on cognitive science research) and reviews common analogies for teaching about time with those best practices in mind.
- Visualizations with Teaching Tips is a small collection of visualizations, submitted by faculty teaching about time, with their comments on how they use these visualizations to teach about time.
- Teaching about Geochronology is a page of recommendations for teaching about geochronology, from a group of geoscience educators and geochronologists.
- The Teaching About Time workshop synthesis summarizes the key findings and recommendations of the 2012 workshop. Read it to learn about the cognitive challenges of learning about time and the promising strategies for teaching.
- Barriers to Teaching or Learning About Rates and Time is a list of barriers to learning about geologic time, drawn from the experiences of applicants to the 2011 Temporal Learning Journal Club.
- Temporal Learning Journal Club Findings is a brief summary of the key findings from each meeting of the Temporal Learning Journal Club. The Journal Club explored the cognitive underpinnings of understanding geologic time.
- Courses with a focus on geologic time.
- Teaching Activities about geologic rates and time. One subset of these activities is our collection of posters about teaching activities, drawn from the presentations given at the 2005 GSA session on Geologic Rates and Time (see below).
- Assessments of student learning, with a focus on geologic time or temporal concepts.
- Visualizations relating to rates and time that are useful in the classroom.
- Selected essays on teaching and learning about temporal concepts, from participants at the 2012 workshop on Teaching about Time and scholars of temporal learning.
Workshops and Events
We held a workshop on Teaching About Time at Arizona State University, in Tempe, AZ, in February 2012. This workshop brought together faculty teaching about time with researchers studying temporal learning to understand current best practice in teaching about time, to bring forward ideas from education and cognitive psychology that can inform improved practice, and to work together in ways that support improved teaching about time. Read the workshop synthesis for details.
2011 Journal Club
From January to May, 2011, the Temporal Learning Journal Club met once a month to discuss readings from the geoscience and cognitive science literature. We explored the cognitive underpinnings of understanding geologic time and wrote a summary of what we learned.
Sessions at Professional Society Meetings
The Cutting Edge project has sponsored several sessions at professional society meetings related to teaching about time:
- Teaching About Rates and Time at the Fall 2012 American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, CA.
- Time, Events, and Places: Understanding Temporal and Spatial Learning in Geoscience Education at the 2011 Geological Society of America meeting in Minneapolis, MN.
- It's About Time: Teaching the Temporal Aspects of Geoscience at the 2005 Geological Society of America meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. This session highlighted strategies for teaching how geoscientists date events using paleontology, radiometric dating, relative proxy data, and other techniques, as well as strategies for bringing cutting edge geochronologic research into the classroom.
- Rates, Fluxes and Cycling in the Earth System: What Do We Know, What Are We Thinking at the 2004 fall AGU meeting in San Francisco, CA