Workshop Overview

This workshop will facilitate discussion, exchange of information, and sharing of resources to make the most out of introductory courses in the geosciences, including courses focused on geology, oceanography, atmospheric science, and Earth system science. We will explore the multiple roles introductory courses play for students as well as in programs and institutions: providing an introduction to science and its role in society, facilitating exploration of a potential major, preparing students for a second level course at a given institution or at a transfer institution, recruiting diverse students into the program, and meeting campus-wide goals for critical thinking or sustainability.

After articulating the multiple roles of and goals for participants' introductory courses, we will explore best practices and a wide range of strategies for optimizing these courses and maximizing their impact, including using effective pedagogic approaches, working with TAs, developing regional partnerships, and many others. Each participant's context will provide both opportunities and constraints in the design and implementation of their introductory courses, and we will work in small groups where participants share some commonalities. We will discuss how each participant can best take advantage of their own geographical setting, its natural history, environmental concerns, and employment needs; as well as capitalize on the specific assets of their institution and its student body, and their department and its programs.

A primary focus of the workshop will be the SWOT analysis, a tool that participants will use to analyze their course in context. Participants will also create an action plan for modifying their course(s) and obtain feedback on this plan from other workshop participants.

Workshop Goals

The goals of this workshop are to provide the opportunity for faculty and instructors to:

  • Analyze their introductory course(s) in the context of their own institution;
  • Share and discuss effective strategies in their introductory courses;
  • Explore recently developed web resources and successful strategies for introductory courses;
  • Develop an action plan for making change beyond the workshop.


This workshop will take place from 1:00-5:00 pm on December 16, 2014, in Moscone South: Mezzanine Rooms 224 & 226, as part of the AGU Fall Meeting.


An important outcome of this workshop is for all participants to leave with a completed SWOT analysis and an action plan to address their analysis. The workshop also seeks to provide an opportunity for groups of faculty to share and discuss effective strategies for recruiting and supporting majors, general education, and teacher preparation through introductory courses. In order to accomplish these goals, participants are expected to do the following:

  • During the workshop, participants will
    • Review and discuss their completed SWOT analysis,
    • Explore resources and strategies, and
    • Participate in the creation, review and discussion of action plans.


Registration is through the AGU online registration tool

For More Information

Please contact Anne Egger (annegger AT