Initial Publication Date: December 18, 2012

Effective Strategies for Undergraduate Geoscience Teaching Virtual Event Series

(Re)Designing introductory geoscience labs to promote inquiry: February 20, 2013

Leader: David McConnell and Katherine Ryker, North Carolina State University

This event has already taken place.

This webinar is intended for instructors who wish to create introductory geoscience lab experiences that include inquiry-based activities. We will compare and contrast such activities against traditional confirmation labs that are typical of most commercial lab manuals. Participants will have access to examples of whole labs and individual lab activities that correspond with different levels of inquiry as defined by Buck et al. (2008). We hope you will join us!

If you participated in this webinar, please share your feedback on the event. Thanks!

Jump down to: References and resources from this virtual event, including presentation slides and a screencast.

Goals for participants are to:

  • Identify levels of inquiry present in introductory geoscience labs
  • Analyze the characteristics of activities that represent different levels of inquiry
  • Discuss the training necessary for teaching assistants to teach inquiry labs appropriately

Duration - 1 hour
Format - Online web presentation via Adobe Connect web conference software with questions and discussion. Participants will receive an email with instructions detailing how to log into the event approximately one week prior to the event.
Registration - The registration deadline for this webinar has passed.
Cost - The cost of the webinar is $30 (or $20 for NAGT members; learn more about becoming a member of NAGT).

Please email Heather Macdonald (rhmacd AT if you have any questions about this event or Molly Kent (mkent AT if you have technical questions.


David McConnell is an Professor of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences at North Carolina State University. McConnell's research focuses on assessment of learning processes in large general education geoscience classes. His current work examines the affective domain that involves the attitudes, feelings and emotions that may hinder or promote learning.

Kathrine Ryker is a PhD student at North Carolina State University. Katherine's research focuses on how students learn in introductory geoscience lecture and labs. Katherine has teaching experience at both the undergraduate and high school levels.

References and Resources

Screencast of (Re)Designing introductory geoscience labs to promote inquiry.

(Re)Designing Introductory Geoscience Labs to Promote Inquiry
Click to view
Slides from (Re)Designing Introductory Geoscience Labs to Promote Inquiry (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 7.4MB May17 13).

Example Labs

  • Lab 1: Introduction to Science and the Scientific Method worksheet PDF (Acrobat (PDF) 675kB Feb20 13)
  • Lab 11: Groundwater worksheet PDF (Acrobat (PDF) 635kB Feb20 13)

Levels of Inquiry PDF handout

Buck Levels of Inquiry

  • Buck, L.B., Lowery Bretz, S., and Towns, M.H., 2008, Characterizing the level of inquiry in the undergraduate laboratory; Journal of College Science Teaching, Sept/Oct, p.52-58.

Discussion thread topic for further discussion on this topic:

Course Design:

Teaching Methods:

  • Pedagogy in Action -This site provides an introduction to a range of effective teaching methods that go beyond lecture. The site describes the methods, points to the research about its effectiveness, provides hints and tips for using it well and ends with a collection of classroom activities that exemplify the teaching methods. There are also subsets of this site focused on geoscience-specific teaching methods and activities.