Barbara Bekken has held a part-time faculty position in the Department of Geosciences at Virginia Tech since 1993. She has studied how student development affects learning through an experimental general education program that used the theme of sustainability to investigate how various disciplines inform interdisciplinary issues. Beginning in 2000, she created two new courses to address deficiencies in student understanding of the methods of the geosciences, student competencies in scientific writing and speaking, and student preparation for potential careers. She has also worked to revise laboratory curricula in introductory geoscience labs. Her current project is focused on revising the geoscience program curriculum.
Materials Contributed through SERC-hosted Projects
The Cube Exercise and the Methods of Science part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Activities
In this 30 to 45 minute small group activity, students work initially in small groups of 3 to 5 and subsequently as a large group of 18 to 30 to pool data to solve a puzzle. The steps for solving the puzzle are analogous to both descriptive and experimental methods of science. The process of collaborating over the results of the activity are analogous to the scientific collaborative process. And finally, the process of reporting out the model that student groups develop is analogous to the scientific communication process for both research reports and review papers. As students develop a hypothetical model for the puzzle, most succumb to an assumption they make along the way, reinforcing the power of assumptions to constrain the envisioning process.
Collaborative Research Project: Geoscience Undergraduate Curricula part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Activities
In this 2011 collaborative research project, students investigated the geoscience curricula at 37 of VT's peer institutions using scientific methods of data acquisition and analysis. Each student was responsible for researching one peer institution against twelve criteria and then recording their findings in a shared google-docs spreadsheet. Thereafter, student teams were assigned to one of the twelve criteria. Each team used the information in the spreadsheet as well as other sources to describe, compare and contrast peer institution curricula with that of VT. Thereafter, their results were written formally and presented orally to VT faculty.
Geoscience Fundamentals part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Course
Geoscience Fundamentals is a workshop-style course that introduces sophomore-level geoscience majors to very basic philosophical, methodological, and historical foundations of the geosciences. As described in the syllabus, "This course is about, how we do geoscience. It's about how we think about geoscience, how we talk and write about it, where our community of geoscientists came from, and how we become part of that community. It's also about history–where the geoscientific discipline came from and how that has shaped the way we geoscientists think and do what we do. And it is about the careers that geoscientists build, the skills they need to be successful, and the kinds of problems they choose to investigate."
Geoscience fundamentals: teaching the methods and philosophies of science through writing part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Essays
Geoscience fundamentals: teaching the methods and philosophies of science through writing Barbara Bekken, Geosciences, Virginia Tech I am suspicious of faculty who, when they begin to converse on curricular ...
The Earth Sustainability Liberal Education Program: An experiment in integrative learning part of Integrate:Workshops:Programs that Bring Together Geoscience and Sustainability:Essays
Barbara M. Bekken, Geosciences, Virginia Tech What is the Earth Sustainability program in liberal education? The Earth Sustainability (ES) program is an integrative and STEM-saturated experiment in liberal ...
The Earth Sustainability Liberal Education Program: An experiment in integrative learning part of Integrate:Workshops:Programs that Bring Together Geoscience and Sustainability:Programs
Information for this profile was provided by Barbara Bekken, Geosciences, Virginia Tech. Students in this program are pursuing a bachelors degree. Program Design & Assessment Overview Earth Sustainability is ...