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 (5)

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 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 ...

Geo-Needs: A Synthesized Ideal Model for Broadening Participation in the Geosciences at Two-Year and Minority-Serving Institutions part of Earth Educators Rendezvous:Rendezvous 2016:Program:Poster Sessions:Thursday
Employment opportunities in the geosciences are rapidly expanding, yet underrepresented minorities continue to make up ~8% of the geoscience-related workforce. Our project focuses specifically on the lack of ...

A Pilot Study of Spatial Thinking for Meteorology Education part of Earth Educators Rendezvous:Rendezvous 2016:Program:Poster Sessions:Tuesday
The important role of spatial thinking in STEM education is established, yet minimally applied to meteorology education and the study of atmospheric sciences. Weather forecasting, involving hand plotting of ...

Other Contributions (4)

GeoNeeds: Broadening Participation in the Geosciences Workforce part of Earth Educators Rendezvous:Rendezvous 2016:Program:Morning Workshops:GeoNeeds
This workshop is for faculty and administrators who would like to build or expand opportunities for students to engage with the geosciences (atmospheric and climate science, engineering geoscience, geology, ...

Getting Your Education Work Published part of Earth Educators Rendezvous 2015:Program:Mini Workshops:Ed Publishing
Success with peer-reviewed journal publications are at the heart of tenure and promotion, as well as a critically important way to share your work with others. At this workshop, we will explore differences between ...

Successful Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Geoscience Majors part of Earth Educators Rendezvous:Rendezvous 2016:Program:Panel Discussions
With an aging geoscience workforce, employment opportunities in the geosciences remain robust, creating a demand for workers prepared as undergraduate majors in the geosciences. At the same time, participation of ...

Lesson Plan Experiences in Science Content Courses part of Teacher Preparation:Workshops and Activities:Workshop 2007
Earth Science for Elementary Teachers - Including Lesson Design Group Members Heather Petcovic, Earth Science for Elementary Educators II Ann Bykerk-Kauffman, Concepts in Earth and Space Sciences Elizabeth ...