Faculty Professional Development by means of Case Based Reasoning

Posted: Nov 22 2011 by Kim Kastens
Topics: Metacognition, Collaboration, Community

photo from SERC Workshop
Small group discussion at SERC Complex Earth sysetms workshop
I've now been to five workshops in the "On the Cutting Edge" series of professional development workshops for college geoscience faculty (this one, and this, and this, and this, and this). I've been amazed and somewhat bemused at how well they work. People show up, they contribute genuinely good teaching ideas, they ask seriously probing questions of the expert speakers, new ideas get generated through small group discussion, and then people go home and actually make use of ideas from the workshop in their teaching practice. I'm not the only person who really likes these workshops: as of about a year and half ago, 1400 geoscience faculty from more than 450 geoscience departments had participated in Cutting Edge workshops (Manduca, et al, 2010).

In contrast, many of my colleagues concerned with the quality of science education in other disciplines moan and groan about how hard it is to get college faculty to pay attention to research on learning or to change their teaching practice. So how–by what mechanism–does the Cutting Edge approach work? Here's an idea. More

Seeking Kosmos

Posted: Nov 18 2011 by Kim Kastens
Topics: Temporal Thinking, History of Geosciences
I've been working on a set of concept maps showing major domains of geoscientific thinking as part of the Synthesis of Research on Thinking and Learning in the Geosciences. One tendril of the "Temporal Thinking in Geosciences" concept map branches off to depict "Historical sciences."

Concept map of Historical Sciences
As described in an earlier post on temporal thinking, these are fields of science or scholarship that pay careful attention to the timing and sequence of events, and use timing and sequence to provide constraints on causality. Our concept map shows nodes for Cosmology, Geology & Paleontology, Archeology, History, and Developmental Psychology. More

But should we call them "lies"?

Posted: Nov 16 2011 by Kim Kastens
Topics: Metacognition, Interpretation/Inference
Two interesting things have transpired since my previous blog post, "Telling Lies to Children."

First, Dana discovered a fabulous cartoon, the exactly speaks to the topic of the post. Wonderously, the cartoon is published under a creative commons license, so I can reproduce it here for you: More

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"Telling Lies to Children"

Posted: Oct 26 2011 by Kim Kastens & Dana Chayes
Topics: Metacognition, Interpretation/Inference

(Co-author Dana is Kim's 15-old daughter, a veteran of the New York State Earth Science Regents course, now taking integrated biology and chemistry. She is also an avid reader, currently working her way through the 42 Discworld books of Sir Terry Pratchett.)

Book cover:  Science of Discworld In The Science of Discworld, Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen make the case that education necessarily involves telling "lies to children." We realize that telling lies to children is a pretty common part of traditional parenting (Santa Claus, stork, etc.), but in school! in the citadel of learning and truth! How can this be? More

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Embedded Energy versus Embedded Cognition

Posted: Sep 7 2011 by Kim Kastens
Topics: Energy, Solving Societal Problems

"Embedded energy" refers to the energy that was used to create an object–including mining or growing or catching the raw materials, manufacturing and assembling the pieces, transporting the raw materials and finished product, and installing the object in its place of use. A spoon, to take a simple example, required energy to mine the ore, to smelt the ore to make the metal, to shape the metal into spoon shape, plus more energy to transport ore to the smelter, metal to the factory, spoon to the store. Embedded energy is contrasted with the energy required to power or use the product during its lifetime.

There is a somewhat parallel concept, which refers to the knowledge and thinking that was required to design and perfect the object. More