If you have dropped into this Course Design Tutorial from somewhere else, you might wish to start at the introduction, overview, or table of contents.

Origin of this tutorial

This on-line course design tutorial is an outgrowth of a workshop entitled "Designing Effective and Innovative Courses in the Geosciences" developed in 1997 by Barbara Tewksbury and Heather Macdonald as part of a larger NSF-funded effort to promote effective and innovative teaching in the geosciences. We have offered the highly successful, four-day summer workshop ten times since 1997. In addition, we have modified the format for shorter workshops and presentations both for geoscience faculty and for faculty in other fields across the curriculum. We have presented these shorter workshops at geoscience professional meetings, at the SENCER Summer Institutes ( This site may be offline. ) , at DLESE meetings, at workshops held by the National Research Council for Math Science Partnership awardees, and at many individual colleges and universities.

The developers

Barbara Tewksbury portrait

Dr. Barbara J. Tewksbury is professor of geoscience at Hamilton College. She has spoken widely and published on geoscience education issues and has played a leadership role in the national geoscience education community for over a decade. She has given dozens of workshops to faculty in departments across the country and has been co-PI on a number of grants to offer workshops for geoscience faculty (including On the Cutting Edge). She is a Past President of the American Geological Institute and a Past President of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. She also served as President of the Geology Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research for three years. She is a fellow of the Geological Society of America and served as an elected member of the GSA Council.

In 1994, she received NSF funding to develop an interdisciplinary course entitled "The Geology and Development of Modern Africa," which was one of the courses selected in 2002 to be a model course for national dissemination in the SENCER program ( This site may be offline. ) . She was named CASE New York State Professor of the Year in 1997 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and was the 2004 recipient of NAGT's Neil Miner Award for exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth Sciences. In 2006, she received an honorary degree from St. Lawrence University for her work in geoscience education.

Dr. R. Heather Macdonald is a professor of geology at the College of William and Mary, where she also served as Dean of Undergraduate Studies in Arts and Sciences. She is a Past President of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers and was a member of the National Resarch Council's Committee on Undergraduate Science Education. She recevied the Biggs Earth Science Teaching Award given by the Geological Society of America in 1992 and the Outstanding Faculty Award given by the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia in 2004. She has been PI on a number of grants to offer workshops for geoscience faculty (including On the Cutting Edge). She has used aspects of the course design process described in this tutorial with faculty from a wide range of disciplines who have participated in the University Teaching Project at the College of William and Mary

Other contributors

We are also grateful to the colleagues listed below who have served as facilitators at our workshops over the years and have helped shape and improve the workshop.

Workshop facilitators and on-line mentors

  • Pranoti Asher (Georgia Southern University)
  • Mark Francek (Central Michigan University)
  • William Hirt (College of the Siskiyous)
  • Charlotte Mehrtens (University of Vermont)
  • Nathan Miller (University of Missouri, Rolla)
  • Richard Yuretich (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

Workshop facilitators

  • Tracy Gregg (University at Buffalo)
  • Paul Kelso (Lake Superior State University)
  • Dean McManus (University at Washington)
  • Jeffrey Niemitz (Dickinson College)
  • Mark Noll (SUNY Brockport)
  • Kenneth Verosub (University at California, Davis)
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