Teaching About Energy in Geoscience Courses

We may be poised on the brink of a shift in energy use and energy policy. Pressing issues like the longevity of petroleum supplies and rapidly expanding global markets competing for finite energy supplies are concurrent with considerations such as climate change policy and a push toward domestic energy production. Geoscience plays a role in many facets of energy science and policy; hence our students need solid footing on which to navigate through this complex subject. Whether as citizens and consumers or as scientific leaders in the field, today's students will play important roles in the future of energy.
Course Design & Pedagogy | Resource Collections | Special Topics | Workshops & Events | Get Involved

Designing an Effective Energy Course

1. Set goals

Learn more about setting effective course goals in the Course Design Tutorial. You can also explore course goals from others' energy courses using the course information and syllabi available in the course collection.

2. Consider assessment options

Aligning your assessment strategies with the goals of your course is an essential part of the design process. You can learn more about assessment in the section about Assessing Student Learning in the Course Design Tutorial and through our module on Observing and Assessing Student Learning.

3. Select pedagogies and teaching activities

The pedagogic techniques highlighted below can provide inspiration as you consider various approaches that will help you achieve your course goals. The resource collections are organized to provide a rich set of materials to draw from in constructing the specific set of learning experiences you want for your students. Finally, explore the ideas available in special topics.

Selected Pedagogical Approaches
Approaches specifically useful to teaching about energy are:

A selection of additional pedagogies that lend themselves to the geosciences are found in the Teaching Methods area.

Resource Collections 
Once you've identified the core learning goals for your course, you can use them to focus your search for relevant materials in our resource collections. The materials listed below reflect the contributions of faculty members from across the country.

  • Course descriptions and syllabi including learning goals and supporting information.
  • Teaching activities including classroom activities, lab exercises, problem sets, and more. These activities include contextual information, such as learning goals and assessment strategies. Participants of a 2009 workshop also generated a list of ideas for teaching about energy useful for developing new activities.
  • Visualizations: Videos, animations and graphics about a wide range of energy types.
  • Selected readings: Books and DVD's organized by topic recommended by faculty that are useful for teaching about energy.
  • Recommended resources: Useful websites recommended by faculty who teach about energy.

Special Topics

  • Japan's Nuclear Emergency: This collection of teaching materials and visualizations focuses on the nuclear emergency that followed the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. It includes materials on the March 2011 event as well as background information on nuclear energy and past nuclear disasters that may be useful in incorporating teaching with real events in the classroom.
  • Outcomes of the working groups at the 2009 Teaching Energy workshop. These are ideas and works-in-progress for developing new materials for teaching about energy in geoscience courses.
  • Ideas for teaching energy inspired by the presentations, activities and interactions at the 2009 Teaching Energy workshop; they are ideas only, rather than finished products. For more outcomes from this workshop, see the workshop program which has links to presentations and discussions.

Workshops and Events

Get Involved

  • Contribute materials: We encourage those who teach about energy to contribute course descriptions, teaching activities, and references to help build our collection.
  • Join the Energy Email List to take part in discussions with colleagues that teach those topics.

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