Initial Publication Date: October 3, 2014

Explore Course Designs

These pages were written by Anne Egger (Central Washington University) and Molly Kent (Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College), drawing on discussions and contributions from the 2014 Getting the Most Out of your Introductory Courses workshop.

There are many ways to design effective introductory courses. While the design you choose may have aspects that are unique to your institution, you can learn about what others have done to help you determine what will work best for you and your students.

Deliver Geoscience Content through Societal Issues

structuring course content around societal issues
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Teaching materials developed through InTeGrate are designed specifically to address one or more Earth-related grand challenges facing society. A suite of materials have been developed specifically for introductory geoscience courses; these materials were informed, written, and tested by your colleagues.

Listen to Cynthia Fadem from Earlham College describe how she integrates societal issues into her introductory geoscience course in her presentation Geology and You from the March 2014 workshop.

See more on Teaching with Real-World Examples »

Incorporate Active Learning in Large Lecture Courses

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Large courses are a staple form of the introductory course. But just because you are faced with hundreds of students in a cavernous lecture hall doesn't mean that you have to lecture to them all the time---you can engage your students in active learning in a variety of ways.

Listen to Elizabeth Malcolm from Virginia Wesleyan describe the many types of activities she incorporates into her large lecture classes to keep students engaged in her presentation Enhancing lecture with interactive activities, from the March 2014 workshop.

See more on Teaching Large Classes »

Go Online, Perhaps Massively So

online and massive online courses
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Enrollment in online courses is growing, and many institutions are increasing their online offerings. You might be hesitant to step into a new form of teaching, but there are many tools and resources that can help you design or adopt an online course.

Listen to Jonathan Tomkin from University of Illinois describe his experience teaching an online course and a MOOC in his presentation Geoscience Online Education: Present and Future, from the March 2014 workshop.

See more on Teaching Geoscience Online »

Break Down the Barrier Between Lecture and Lab

lab-lecture complete breakdown
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Just because your introductory course has always been separated into lecture and lab doesn't mean it has to stay that way. The SCALE-UP design, developed by Bob Beichner and others, is one alternative focused on collaborative learning that has proven successful in a number of classrooms.

Listen to Mike Jackson, a physics professor at Central Washington University, describe how he redesigned their introductory sequence to integrate lecture and lab and still meet large enrollment needs in his presentation Revising the introductory physics sequence from the March 2014 workshop.

See more on Cooperative Learning »

Flip Your Class

See more information about engaging students in group work during class, including through

partially flipped classroom
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A "flipped" class can mean a lot of things. The idea originated from the idea that students can listen to a lecture outside of class, on their own time, when they can rewind and listen again and the goal is for them to gain individual knowledge. Class time is focused on group work and problem solving, when students benefit from being together and being with you, the instructor.

Listen to Rachel Teasdale from California State University-Chico describe her partially flipped class, and why she considers it partially rather than fully flipped.

See What Others Are Doing

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