Heather Petcovic

Geosciences and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education

Western Michigan University

Dr. Heather Petcovic
Associate Professor
Western Michigan University 

I hold a joint appointment between the Department of Geosciences and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education at Western Michigan University. My research broadly focuses on field-based geoscience education and practice. I use qualitative and mixed methods of research to understand the role of field experience in the transition from undergraduate student to expert geoscientist. Specific research projects have studied the roles of knowledge, spatial thinking, and movement patterns in novice to expert geologic mapping, and how student conceptions of complex biogeochemical systems change in a field-based undergraduate course. More recently I have worked on the changing role of fieldwork in geoscience workforce preparation, and the role of visuospatial skills in fieldwork and sketching. I have been active in the preparation and professional development of K-12 teachers through teaching science content courses and consulting on several teacher development initiatives. I currently serve NAGT as the President of the Teacher Education Division (NAGT-TED) and as the Editor for Curriculum & Instruction, Journal of Geoscience Education.

Workshop Leader and Participant, Website Contributor

Website Content Contributions

Activity (1)

The History of the Earth: Classroom Activity part of Teacher Preparation:Resource Collections:Activities
Students use events in an older adult's life to develop a timeline, which is then related to a scaled model of major events in the earth's history and the development of the geologic timescale.

Course (1)

Western Michigan University: Earth Science for Elementary Educators II part of Teacher Preparation:Resource Collections:Courses
This laboratory-based course is specifically designed for prospective elementary teachers and covers physical/historical geology content with reference to state elementary (K-8) benchmarks. The objectives of the ...

Conference Presentations (3)

Using Mixed Methods to Explore Field Sketching: An Example from the Hat Creek Fault Zone part of Earth Educators Rendezvous 2015:Program:Abstracts
Sketching is a common yet powerful means of communication and visualization in the geosciences. Particularly in field settings, geoscientists sketch in order to record data, explore interpretations, and communicate ...

Climate change education: the perspective from middle school teachers part of Earth Educators Rendezvous 2015:Program:Abstracts
Schools should be active places where citizens learn about climate and how to advocate for stewardship of the planet. However, the global nature of climate science, the complexity of Earth systems, misconceptions ...

Rock, Paper, Hammer: Where do thoughts and actions count in making a geologic map? part of Earth Educators Rendezvous 2015:Program:Abstracts
In this study, we integrate data capturing the physical actions, spoken thoughts, and navigation paths of geologists as each makes a geologic map of a field site in the Tobacco Root Mountains, Montana, USA. Four ...


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Member of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers

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