Teach the Earth > Rates and Time

Teaching About Rates and Time

An understanding of geologic time is fundamental for all students in geoscience courses. Determining the rates of geoscience processes and dates of key events lie at the heart of much of geoscience research. Concepts associated with how geoscientists determine rates and dates are difficult for students to learn and challenging for instructors to teach.

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

Resource Collections

  • 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

Get Involved


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