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Developing Teaching Materials

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InTeGrate is developing a new breed of teaching materials that can be utilized in general education courses, teacher preparation courses, core courses within geoscience majors, and courses designed for other majors including environmental studies, social science, engineering, and other sciences.

These materials are designed to:

  1. address one or more Earth related grand challenges facing society,
  2. develop student ability to address interdisciplinary problems,
  3. improve student understanding of the nature and methods of geoscience and developing geoscientific habits of mind,
  4. make use of authentic and credible geoscience data to learn central concepts in the context of geoscience methods of inquiry, and,
  5. incorporate systems thinking

These materials were designed and tested by your peers. They are ready for you to adapt them to work in your classroom, with your students.
Learn more about adapting InteGrate materials.

All InTeGrate teaching materials are developed and tested by teams of faculty drawn from at least three institutions. By engaging these faculty who teach different kinds of students at different types of institutional settings in collaboratively developing materials we strive to create robust, flexible materials that can be used effectively in a wide variety of settings. This is key to creating materials that can be adopted easily by faculty who are not involved in the development.

Each team develops and tests materials during a two year interval. In most cases, we anticipate that teams will be created in the spring with an intensive development taking place during the summer. Testing occurs during the following academic year and is followed by revision and publication of the materials. Teams meet face-to-face near the beginning of the development work and again after the completion of testing. Team members commit to participating in the collaborative design and development of the materials, piloting and testing these materials at their home institution, and revising and refining the materials based on the results of testing. In addition, they are responsible for completing a comprehensive set of documentation that supports other faculty in using the materials, including a description of the use of the materials in their own classrooms.

To support effective integration of scientific data, teams may have other types of members beyond the core faculty from three different institutions.

InTeGrate is producing tested materials that are effective in reaching their stated learning goals as well as meeting the projects overarching goals. To support development teams in meeting this high standard, each team works with a consultant drawn from the InTeGrate Assessment team. All materials must meet the criteria defined by the InTeGrate Curriculum Development and Refinement Rubric (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 113kB Jan18 14) before testing begins. This rubric encodes both the overarching goals of the project and research-based principles for effective instruction. All materials must include embedded assessments that can be used to measure student progress toward the stated learning goals. The assessment consultant's role is to provide expertise to help the team meet these requirements. The assessment consultant also helps the team make sense of the classroom testing results that form the basis for revising the materials before publication on the InTeGrate website.

Materials for General Education Courses

Introductory geoscience modules/courses
This effort, led by Dr. David McConnell at North Carolina State University, is developing a modular set of materials based on the literacy documents that are suitable for use in large face-to-face, blended, and distance introductory courses within geoscience departments. These modules can be organized in a variety of combinations to serve a range of introductory courses.

  • Carbon, Climate, and Energy Resources: Callan Bentley (Northern Virginia Community College), Peter Berquist (Thomas Nelson Community College), Pamela Gore (Georgia Perimeter College) - module complete.

    This two-week module focuses on fostering a deeper understanding of the carbon cycle and what happens when it is perturbed. In six self-contained units that would fit well in classes such as Physical Geology, Historical Geology, or Environmental Geology, students will develop their critical thinking skills, explore the dynamics of Earth's carbon cycle through biogeochemistry and the perspective of "deep time," and learn how carbon was sequestered to produce traditional and nontraditional fossil fuels. Now that these subterranean carbon reservoirs have been tapped, students will examine the current state of carbon cycle destabilization, and its potential consequences, before concluding with an examination of "new" energy resources and techniques through case studies of controversial techniques, initiatives, and deposits.
  • Changing Biosphere: Camille Holmgren (Buffalo State, SUNY), Rebecca Teed (Wright State University) - module complete.
  • Climate of Change: Interactions and Feedbacks Between Water, Air and Ice: Cynthia Fadem (Earlham College), Cindy Shellito (University of Northern Colorado), Becca Walker (Mt San Antonio College) - module complete.

    In this two to three week module, students explore short-term climate variability resulting from atmosphere-ocean-ice interactions. The module promotes awareness of past and contemporary cultures and regions strongly affected by permanently altered or increasingly uncertain climates as students consider human adaptation to climate fluctuations. Students investigate the dynamics and impacts associated with climate variability by examining and analyzing atmosphere, ocean, and ice data; completing a series of readings; and engaging in group discussions. Materials and teaching descriptions for gallery walks, interactive discussions, group work, and lab exercises are provided.
  • Earth's Thermostat: Alison Dunn (Worcester State College), Bob MacKay (Clark College), Phillip Resor (Wesleyan University) - module complete.
  • Environmental Justice and Freshwater Resources: Adriana Perez (Dona Ana Community College), Jill Schneiderman (Vassar College), Joshua Villalobos (El Paso Community College), Meg Stewart (independent instruction technologist) - module complete.

    This module enables students to identify the freshwater components of the hydrologic cycle and connect them to the basic need of all human beings for equal access to clean freshwater. This is accomplished by framing the water science within theories of environmental justice defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as "the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies."

    Students work with rainfall and streamflow data as well as groundwater availability information using examples from the United States–Hawaii, New York, and Texas–and in countries of the Global South–Trinidad, Kenya, and India. Concepts covered–for example, watersheds, drainage divides, surface water and groundwater–are simultaneously situated amidst questions of environmental equity. The module also develops the geospatial reasoning skills of students who use the materials.

    The module is unique in that it teaches scientific principles thoroughly embedded in a context that foregrounds the importance of equal access to water as a basic human right.
  • Humans' Dependence on Earth's Mineral Resources: Prajukti Bhattacharyya (University of Wisconsin- Whitewater), Joy Branlund (Southwestern Illinois College), Leah Joseph (Ursinus College) - module complete.

    Despite humans' heavy reliance on Earth's mineral resources, few might think about where the products they use come from and what it took to produce them. This module addresses that disconnect by combining learning about rocks and minerals (and how these become the products students use), methods of mineral resource discovery and extraction, and the impact of mineral resource use, topics that are often covered separately in typical introductory geoscience textbooks. As such, this module allows important geoscience concepts to be taught in context of important and immediate societal issues while also asking students to confront human issues such as environmental justice, economics, personal choice and politics that may arise due to obtaining, beneficiating, transporting, trading, using and disposing of natural resources.
  • Living on the Edge: Building resilient societies on active plate margins: Laurel Goodell (Princeton), Peter Selkin (University of Washington-Tacoma), Rachel Teasdale (California State University, Chico) - module complete.

    This module, intended to take two weeks in an introductory-level class, is divided into three units that focus on geologic hazards and associated risks at representative plate boundary settings: transform, divergent and convergent. Students are assumed to be familiar with the basics of plate tectonics, including the general characteristics of plate boundaries, but an introductory unit is provided for students to obtain the needed background.

    Although designed to be used in the sequence transform->divergent->transform, each plate boundary unit is adaptable for use on its own. Each plate boundary unit is designed to be equivalent to two one-hour class sessions and includes: a) accounts of historically important earthquakes and/or volcanic eruptions that have occurred in that setting, b) exploration and interpretation of scientific data related the geologic processes responsible for the geologic hazard(s), c) analysis of the effects on and risks to human populations, and d) development of strategies to mitigate risks. At the end of each unit, student learning is assessed by their application of unit content to a new location in a similar plate boundary setting.
  • Natural Hazards and Risks: Hurricanes: Josh Galster (Montclair State University), Lisa Gilbert (Williams College), Joan Ramage (Lehigh University) - module complete.

    Making the difficult decision to evacuate before a hurricane makes landfall can save lives and property. This two week module explores how hurricanes connect the ocean-atmosphere-terrestrial systems and society. Students evaluate how hurricane hazards and risks have changed with coastal development. Students use data to track historic hurricanes and compare the impacts from different hurricanes. The module culminates in a role-playing activity in which students identify and represent stakeholders facing hypothetical evacuation in their town.
  • Ocean Sustainability: Michelle Kinzel (San Diego Community College), Astrid Schnetzer (North Carolina State University), Cara Thompson (Santa Monica College) - module complete.
  • Systems Thinking: Lisa Gilbert (Williams College), Deborah Gross (Carleton College), Karl Kreutz (University of Maine) - module complete.
  • A Growing Concern: Sustaining Soil Resources through Local Decision Making: Sarah Fortner (Wittenberg University), Martha Murphy (Santa Rosa Junior College), Hannah Scherer (Virginia Tech) - module complete.

    Continued agricultural productivity and the ability to feed the earth's growing population hinges on understanding how to manage soil resources. This module will address this need by providing students the opportunity to examine the differences between intensively managed agricultural landscapes (e.g. grazelands, conventional tillage) and "natural" landscapes (forested or prairie) landscapes. Using learning-centered strategies, students will develop a working knowledge of soil physical properties and geospatial data at both local and global scales. The module culminates with a project centered on making sustainable soil management decisions under global climate change.
Interdisciplinary general education courses
  • Gateway to Renewable Energy and Environmental Sustainability (GREENS): Randy Chambers (The College of William and Mary), Maurice Crawford (Elizabeth City State University), Benjamin Cuker (Hampton University) - course has passed the review rubric, was piloted by its authors, and is undergoing final revision and review in preparation for being made public.

    The goal of this course is to teach basic geosciences principles through an exploration of environmentally sustainable technologies. The course will consist of nine modules, each of which can be used independently of the others. The course will be open to all under graduate students and will be designed to take advantage of a diverse enrollment. Students will explore how each technology works, its importance in addressing one or more grand challenges in the geosciences, and the social and economic implications associated with that technology and competing approaches. Pedagogy will stress hands-on experimentation and leaner-centered approaches. The design will minimize the role of lecturing and promote a variety of active leaning approaches

Teacher Preparation Modules/Courses

Dr. Anne Egger at Central Washington University is leading an effort to develop a set of modules aimed at courses for pre-service teachers including both content courses (usually taught in science departments) and methods courses. The first and second sets of teacher preparation authors have been selected. Please check back in December for the 2014 call for authors.
  • Exploring Geoscience Methods: James Ebert (SUNY Oneonta), Scott Linneman (Western Washington University), Jeff Thomas (Central Connecticut State University) - module complete.

    This module gives pre-service secondary science teachers the opportunity to use and reflect on geoscientific thinking. The module begins with an exploration of how geoscience methods are similar to and different from the stereotypical experimental scientific method. Then, students use methods of geoscience (e.g., systems thinking, multiple converging lines of evidence, developing spatial and temporal frameworks) in a data-rich, interdisciplinary exploration of the human impacts of global climate change. They will use spatial and temporal data, data visualizations and Google Earth to address the socio-scientific issue "To what extent should we build or re-build coastal communities?" and the scientific question"To what extent are coastal communities at risk due to climate change?" Finally, pre-service teachers explore high-quality, freely available curricular resources to develop a standards-based, interdisciplinary lesson that embeds geoscientific thinking and content as part of biology, chemistry, Earth science, physics or social science instruction. The module can be taught in ~6 hours of class time, plus substantial homework.
  • Interactions between Water, Earth's Surface, and Human Activity: Sue DeBari (Western Washington University), Kyle Gray (University of Northern Iowa), Julie Monet (California State University, Chico) - module complete.

    This module is focused on surface processes driven by Earth's external energy source – the Sun, with explicit linkages to processes driven by Earth's internal energy (understanding of introductory plate tectonics is pre-requisite knowledge). Students will investigate the externally driven processes that shape Earth's surface, such as the hydrologic cycle and its links to the rock cycle. Students will examine the relationship of these external processes to societal issues such as floods, and the availability of natural resources such as drinking water. Students will explicitly describe how internally driven and externally driven processes influence each other. The module will also incorporate key foundational concepts such as the nature of geoscience inquiry, the nature of science and how to understand and interpret online geoscience data sets. While aimed at content courses for pre-service teachers, we expect that activities within this module could also be adapted to other undergraduate geoscience courses.
  • Soils, Systems, and Society: Kathryn Baldwin (Washington State University- Pullman), Jennifer Dechaine (Central Washington University), Rodger Hauge (Eastern Washington University), Gary Varrella (Washington State University - Extension) - module complete.

    This soils module is designed to fill a gap in the K-8 science curriculum while also enhancing preservice teachers' content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge about soils. This inquiry-based module incorporates local problem solving skills, promotes systems and geoscientific thinking and incorporates interdisciplinary connections between earth, life, and physical systems.

Materials that Extend Teaching About the Earth beyond Geoscience Programs

Drs. Anne Egger, David Gosselin, and John Taber are leading teams in developing modules and courses focused on teaching about the Earth beyond geoscience courses. Dr. Egger is leading teams who are building modules and courses with focused on teaching about Earth and sustainability with a humanities or social science lens. Dr. David Gosselin at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, is leading the development of a set of courses that are aimed at integrating geoscience concepts into teaching about societal issues outside of geoscience programs and integrating linkages to societal issues into upper division geoscience courses. Dr. John Taber at Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) is leading the development of a module that bridges engineering, sustainability and the geosciences.

Designed for Spanish courses - Team lead - Anne Egger:

Designed for use in Humanities courses - Team Lead Anne Egger:

  • Cli-Fi: Climate Science in Literary Texts: Jennifer Hanselman (Westfield State University), Rich Oches (Bentley University), Jennifer Silko (Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg), Laura Wright (Western Carolina University) - module complete.

    The goal of this module is to foster climate literacy through the interdisciplinary approaches of both scientific and literary exercises. Specifically, students will provide informed analyses of popular works of climate change fiction (Cli-Fi) and scientific data; they will be able to distinguish between different literary genres, create and analyze scientific data sets, and be able to discuss the various audiences of the material that they analyze. Through a careful examination of fiction and scientific papers by using a variety of instructional techniques, students will ultimately be tasked with comparing the ways that scientific and literary texts communicate in different ways and to different ends the problems and issues surrounding the anthropogenic impacts on global climate change.
  • Mapping the Environment with Sensory Perception: Kate Darby (Allegheny College), Lisa Phillips (Illinois State University), Mike Phillips (Illinois Valley Community College) - module complete.

    This module connects students' personal sensory experiences to environmental data collected and analyzed by geosciences, cultural impacts documented by social scientists, and the communication of environmental conditions and advocacy for remedial action crafted by rhetoricians. Sensory data (specifically smells and sounds) will be collected and used to trace the movement of contaminants through the environment. While geoscientists may ultimately rely upon chemical analyses of water, soil, and air samples, the initial impact of contamination is most often noted when people detect sensorial alterations of their lived spaces. Mapping sensory impacts will help students develop an understanding of how contaminants move through the natural environment; how data is collected to identify contaminants, monitor movement, and identify sources; and how individuals living in proximity to environmental hazards are directly impacted by those hazards. Students will also examine the ways in which information about environmental hazards is conveyed to different audiences and will apply their understanding by developing maps that convey the data they have collected to a specific audience.

Designed for use in Social Sciences courses - Team Lead David Gosselin:

  • Map your Hazards! – Assessing Hazards, Vulnerability and Risk: Brittany Brand (Boise State University), Pamela McMullin-Messier (Central Washington University), Melissa Schlegel (College of Western Idaho) - module complete.

    The 'Map your Hazards!' module provides students an interactive mechanism to engage in place-based exploration of natural hazards, social vulnerability, risk and the factors that shape their communities perception of natural hazards and risk. The module is interdisciplinary in nature as it allows students to integrate interdisciplinary geoscience and social science methodologies to understand societal impacts that result from natural hazards. Students will (1) identify and apply credible geologic and social science datasets to identify hazards and social vulnerability within their region, (2) collect and evaluate survey data on the knowledge, risk perception and preparedness within their social networks, and (3) make recommendations, based on the findings of their work, to potential stakeholders for continued development of a prepared, resilient community. In summary, students will gain insight into how our knowledge and perspectives of the world shape how we interact with it, and how we promote and build resilient communities through understanding the relationship between human systems (built environment) and natural systems.

Designed for use in Engineering courses - Team Lead John Taber:

  • Water Sustainability in Cities: Steve Burian (University of Utah), Manoj Jha (North Carolina A&T State University), Gigi Richard (Colorado Mesa University), Marshall Shepherd (University of Georgia). - module complete.

    This nine-unit module addresses the grand challenge of water system sustainability in cities, and includes aspects of hydrologic and atmospheric processes, clean water, low-impact development, green infrastructure, flood risk, and climate variability. The module consists of nine integrated lessons spanning approximately three weeks of classroom instruction. The lessons use data-driven exercises and the flipped classroom pedagogical approach. The lessons provide a foundation in urban water systems, basic hydrologic and atmospheric processes, and sustainable and resilient infrastructure planning and decision making. Overall, the module highlights the benefits of the interconnections of geoscience, engineering, and other disciplines in the pursuit of water sustainability in cities.

Materials for Use in Geoscience and Related Majors

Upper-level interdisciplinary course - Team Lead David Gosselin:

  • Critical Zone Science: Martha Conklin (University of California, Merced), Susan Gill (Stroud Water Research Center), Bill McDowell (University of New Hampshire), James Washburne (Pima Community College and University of Arizona), Timothy White (Pennsylvania State University) - course complete.
    Team Lead- David Gosselin

    The introductory portion of this course will provide participants with the framework for considering Critical Zone (CZ) science. Here the CZ will be introduced, stressing the importance and overall state of the CZ, and the temporal and spatial scales at which the CZ may be studied. CZ science will be described as an interdisciplinary and international pursuit, stressing the observatory and environmental gradient approach, and outstanding questions in CZ science will be discussed. The introduction will address how to obtain basic existing information mostly from various federal agencies to help understand the CZ. These activities will culminate in an introduction to the basic concepts of system modeling.

    The body of the course will focus on cross-disciplinary science in the CZ and will focus on the large quantity of interdisciplinary data available from the existing NSF-funded CZOs. The material will be organized topically in the following categories: CZ Methods; Land-Atmosphere exchange; Water transfer through the CZ, Landform and landscape evolution; and, Geochemistry/biogeochemistry. The final portion of the course will focus on how interdisciplinary and collective CZ science is accomplished, with consideration of the state and management of the CZ. The course content will be focused on reading, field-trips, and learning activities that access CZO data.
Interdisciplinary modules - Team Lead David Gosselin
  • An Ecosystem Services Approach to Water Resources: Ed Barbanell (University of Utah), Meghann Jarchow (University of South Dakota), John Ritter (Wittenberg University) - module complete.
  • Food as the Foundation for Healthy Communities: Richard Schulterbrandt Gragg III (Florida A&M University), Cynthia Hewitt (Morehouse College), Bakari McClendon (Tallahassee Food Network), John Warford (Florida A&M University), Olugbemiga Olatidoye (Morehouse College) - module has passed the review rubric, was piloted by its authors, and is undergoing final revision and review in preparation for being made public.
  • Lead in the Environment: Katrina Korfmacher (University of Rochester), Martha Richmond (Suffolk University), Caryl Waggett (Allegheny College) - module has passed the review rubric, was piloted by its authors, and is undergoing final revision and review in preparation for being made public.
  • Water, Agriculture, and Sustainability: Nicole Davi (Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory), Terri Plake (Northwest Indian College), Christopher Sinton (Ithaca College), Robert Turner (University of Washington Bothell) - module complete.

    Challenges in Water Sustainability has been designed to address two of the InTeGrate foci: 1) integrating geoscience concepts into teaching about societal issues; and 2) integrating linkages to societal issues into upper division geoscience courses. The intent is to get our students thinking in interdisciplinary, systemic, and holistic ways about our water problems and how addressing them can be done in ways that promote sustainability, equity, and resilience... or not. The module has local and global components. The global component exposes students to issues of water ethics, rights, politics, and economics, as well as the principles of sustainability, resilience, and sustainable development. The local component exposes students to how water varies on short to long-term time scales, moves in their region, and how it is used, abused, and managed. At the discretion of the instructor, the local part of the module can also include field trips, regional case studies, interactions with guest experts, and community-based projects. In keeping with the ideals of sustainability course design, the pedagogy is learning-centered, with an emphasis on group work and student input in the classroom.

Interdisciplinary modules - Team Lead John Taber

  • The Wicked Problem of Global Food Security: Rebecca Boger (CUNY Brooklyn College), Russanne Low (University of Nebraska, Lincoln), Amy Potter (Armstrong State University) - module complete.
  • Major Storms and Community Resilience: Lisa Doner (Plymouth State University), Lorraine Motola (Metropolitan University of New York), Patricia Stapleton (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) - module complete.
  • Regulating Carbon Emissions to Mitigate Climate Change: Robyn Smyth (Bard College), Sandra Penny (Bard College), Curt Gervich (SUNY Plattsburg), Gautam Sethi (Bard College), Eric Leibensperger (SUNY Plattsburgh), Pinar Batur (Vassar College) and volunteer consultants: Elias Dueker (Bard College), Monique Segarra (Bard College) - module complete.

Interdisciplinary distance learning courses
Dr. Tm Bralower at Pennsylvania State University, is leading development of a suite of on-line courses emphasizing the grand challenges of climate change, energy, sea level rise, water supply and natural hazards. These courses will incorporate a focus on the use of predictive models to forecast changes and the impact of mitigation efforts. Taken together, these courses will support a Certificate of Excellence in Earth Science.

  • Coastal Processes Hazards and Society: Sean Cornell (Shippensburg University), Duncan Fitzgerald (Boston University), Mark Kulp (University of New Orleans), Dinah Maygarden (University of New Orleans), Ioannis Georgiou (University of New Orleans), Brent Yarnal (Penn State University) - course complete.

    This online course will provide students with a global perspective of coastal landscapes, the processes responsible for their formation, diversity, and change over time, as well as societal responses to current changes in the coastal zones around the world. Active learning elements include analyzing real data sets and applying critical thinking and problem-solving skills to real-world coastal issues that affect human populations. Students will complete a capstone project in which they consider a real-world coastal issue. The course will comprise four modules, each lasting 3-4 weeks.
  • Earth Modeling: Dave Bice (Penn State University), Luisa Bradtmiller (Macalester College), Kirsten Menking (Vassar College) - course has passed the review rubric, was piloted by its authors, and is undergoing final revision and review in preparation for being made public.
  • Energy, Environment, and Our Future: Richard Alley (Penn State University), Seth Blumsack (Penn State University) - course has passed the review rubric and was piloted in Fall 2015. Note: The link provided leads to the Penn State World Campus version of the course - upon completion, this course will be available in the InTeGrate project format.
  • Future of Food: Mark Blumler, (SUNY), Heather Karsten (Penn State University), Gigi Richard (Colorado Mesa University), Karl Zimmerer (Penn State University) - course has passed the review rubric, was piloted by its authors, and is undergoing final revision and review in preparation for being made public.
  • Water Science and Society: Mike Arthur (Penn State University), Patrick Belmont (Utah State University), Demian Saffer (Penn State University) - course complete.

    This is a 10 module (12 week) general education course focused on the interrelationships between water and human activities from a science and policy standpoint. The course blends key readings with activities (e.g. data analysis, plotting, exploration of simple models) designed to investigate the physical and chemical processes that determine water occurrence, movement, and quality.