Kathleen Harper


University of Montana-Missoula, The

Kathleen Harper has held a part-time faculty position in the University of Montana Geosciences Department since 2008. She received her PhD from the University of Wyoming in 1997, where her research involved characterization of the timing and intensity of metamorphism along the 1.78 Ga Cheyenne Belt collision in Southeastern Wyoming. She then spent several years teaching introductory courses in physics, astronomy, as well as courses in physical science topics for elementary education majors at the University of Wyoming. Following this, she became the Assistant Director of Wyoming NASA Space Grant for several years, supporting science education through research fellowships and development of student and faculty interaction with NASA scientists.

 At the University of Montana, Kathleen teaches introductory geology and designs curriculum for the introductory geology lab. She has been working to reform the teaching approach to support student learning, to promote student understanding of the process of geoscience (and science in general); to increase student engagement in the large-enrollment lecture course; and to design lab activities that help students explore regional geoscience issues.

Materials Contributed through SERC-hosted Projects

Activities (3)

Helping Students Discover Total Internal Reflection part of comPADRE Pedagogic Library:Interactive Lectures:Examples
After students have learned the basic relationship of Snell's Law, they practice applying it to a situation. Then they are given another situation where it "doesn't work." This situation turns out to be one in which total internal reflection occurs. Students are then shown what happens with classroom apparatus.

Experiment Problem in Kinematics: How Much Does it Take to Win the Race? part of comPADRE Pedagogic Library:Teaching with Interactive Demonstrations:Examples
In this activity, students are presented with two objects (typically cars) that have different constant speeds and that will race each other. The students must determine which object will win the race, as well as how much time elapses between the objects crossing the finish line. Not all of the characteristics of the situation are given to the students immediately; they must take and record some data to determine the answer. The activity is flexible in that the amount of information provided can be varied by the instructor according to how much data collection she or he would like the students to do. It is also flexible in that it can be done in a variety of settings and the procedures can be adjusted according to the setting and number of students.

Transport of heavy metals in the Clark Fork River part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Activities
This is an activity about transport of sediment contaminated by copper, arsenic, and other heavy metals that was deposited into the Clark Fork River channel as the result of historical mining activity. The Clark Fork River between Butte and Milltown, Montana has been the focus of several large superfund projects designed to address the impacts of this legacy of mining in the watershed. This activity is used in an introductory physical geology lab (primarily non-majors) with students who may have limited experience working with quantitative analysis and analyzing graphs.


Introduction to Physical Geology part of Process of Science:Courses
This course is an introduction to geoscience; the study of how the Earth works. Humans around the world are impacted every day by geologic phenomena, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and also by access to natural resources such as oil, metals, and water. I hope that students will develop a new appreciation of the natural world, an understanding of the physical processes that have gone into making the Earth as we know it, and an awareness of how Montana fits into the global picture. We will also delve into the nature of science: what is science?; what is the process of science involve?; what defines "good" science? This knowledge will help students make informed decisions about issues that affect humankind. Course enrollment is two sections of about 200 per semester. Lab sections are about 25 students.


Geoscience methods applied to real-world problems part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Essays
Geoscience methods applied to real-world problems Kathleen Harper, Geosciences, The University of Montana, Missoula Many students come into my Physical Geology course with the impression that they are going to be ...

Events and Communities

Introductory Courses 2008 Participants

Process of Science Workshop 2009 Participants

ComPadre Workshop 2007 Participants

ITG Teaching the Methods of Geoscience workshop 2012