Workshop Overview

Many faculty have introductory courses in their teaching repertoires, and those courses span a wide range of subject areas, including physical and historical geology, environmental science, oceanography, natural hazards, and courses that follow a regional or topical theme. This workshop will bring together teachers from a wide variety of institutional settings and backgrounds with the common goal of sharing ideas about improving the pedagogy and content of all of our introductory geoscience courses.

Goals and Format

During this 1-day workshop, we will explore the following topics
  • How can we maximize the long-term impact of our introductory courses?
  • How do we engage students in the real process of science even at the introductory level?
  • What are some approaches to designing a new course or breathing new life into an existing course?
  • How can we make activities we currently use in our courses more effective?
  • How do we approach challenges like teaching large courses, courses with no lab component, or courses in urban settings with nary an outcrop in sight?

The workshop format will include plenary talks, large and small group discussions, and time for planning changes to your own course and activities. In addition, all participants will contribute to development of the online collection of introductory teaching activities for the classroom, lab or field. In doing so, workshop attendees will consider what makes effective activities and assignments and will review and make suggestions for improving submitted materials.


Registration for the workshop must be complete by Friday, November 21, 2008.
The workshop event will take place from 8 am to 5 pm, Sunday, December 14, 2008. Participants must attend the entire workshop.


By registering for the workshop, participants agree to do the following:

  • contribute EITHER one course description to the introductory course database OR one activity to the activity collections by November 21.
  • prepare in advance for workshop discussions by reviewing the outcomes of the July workshop
  • participate fully in the entire workshop
  • use and review at least one new teaching activity after the workshop.

Eligibility and registration instructions

The workshop is limited to 60 participants. Registrants for this workshop must hold a faculty position at a two- or four-year college or university and teach an introductory geoscience course, but we encourage participants representing a wide range of experiences, educational environments, and specialties. We welcome applications from all academic ranks but cannot accept applications from pre-college teachers. Note: since one goal of this workshop is to disseminate the outcomes of the earlier workshop, participants from the July workshop at Carleton are discouraged from registering.

The deadline for registration is Friday, November 21, 2008. The [link registration process includes the completion of a registration form, plus the submittal of either an introductory-level activity or a course description from an introductory course that you teach.


There is no fee to attend this workshop, however the travel costs are the responsibility of each participant and must be paid for by participants or their institutions. Our National Science Foundation grant provides funding for the operational costs of the workshop. To be supported by these funds, a participant must be either a US citizen, a permanent resident, or in the employ of a US institution. If you don't meet these requirements and are interested in participating in this workshop at your own expense, please contact the workshop conveners.


All participants or their home institutions must provide transportation to and from the workshop, held in San Francisco, CA, prior to the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Participants must make their own way to San Francisco in time for the first workshop event at 8 am on Sunday, December 14, 2008. The workshop will be over at 5 pm the same day.

In cases where the cost of attending this workshop would cause financial hardship, you can apply for a supplemental travel stipend up to $300 to help defray these costs. There are two deadlines for stipend requests: If you submit a request for a travel stipend by November 3, you will receive a response by November 10. If you submit after November 3 (and by the registration deadline of November 21), you will receive a response by November 28.


Coffee, juice, and baked goods will be available in the morning for breakfast and lunch will be served at the workshop.

Further Information

Contact Cathy Manduca or Anne Egger.