Testimonials from June 2012 Teaching Environmental Geology workshop

The Teaching Oceanography workshop will be following the model established by the Teaching Environmental Geology workshop that took place in June, 2012. The following are testimonials from some of the Environmental Geology workshop participants who have been teaching for many years. They illustrate some benefits of the workshop and how the new pedagogies, research, and ideas learned at the workshop have influenced the way they approach teaching their classes.

"The Teaching Environmental Geology workshop fundamentally transformed my lecturing approach from a passive delivery of material to one that fully engages undergraduate students. It opened my eyes to a set of highly effective principles and strategies for learning and assessment, which have been very useful to the learning outcomes of my students. Our meeting periods are simply more fun, more productive and a superior learning environment."
~Marta Torres, Professor of Oceanography, Oregon State University

"Although I have taught variants of Environmental Geology and Geologic Hazards since the 1970s, I found the workshop to be a terrific experience. There were new teaching ideas, new concepts for approaching the topics, and most of all new energy to accomplish what really matters - helping students learn. I was especially grateful for the opportunity to pick up tips and tools that I put to use the next semester."
~Duncan Foley, Professor, Department of Geosciences, Pacific Lutheran University

"I have attended several On the Cutting Edge workshops over the 13 years that I have been teaching at the college level, and have found them all well worth my time. I have gotten great ideas not only about content, but also about pedagogy. These ideas have come in concrete forms – (1) curriculum and activities that were shared with everyone, (2) participation in actual field trips or activities so I could experience what was being presented and decide if that was something I would be able to replicate with my students, and (3) development of curriculum and activities so I left with a plan of action. The colleagues who attended typically were teaching the same courses that I teach. They have ranged from right out of grad school (knowing the latest about their field of research) to more seasoned faculty (with a wealth of teaching experience and materials to share) looking for fresh ideas. In the workshops we frequently interacted with our colleagues, and I have found this a safe environment in which to ask lots of questions and learn from others both during and after the workshop. It was always reassuring to have someone interested in something I shared too!"
~Janis D. Treworgy, Ph.D.; Professor and Chair, Geology Department, Principia College

"We tend to think of these workshops as places where new teachers can come to find modules and strategies that they can integrate into their courses - largely unchanged. This is unfortunate because they offer an equal opportunity for more experienced educators to look at the same exercises in light of their own strengths and a better sense of the field. This was my second On the Cutting Edge workshop and, in both instances, I came back with bits and pieces that I could modify or combine to make them my own. Equally important, I left with a better sense of how learning styles and priorities have changed since I was a young teacher. We too often forget that experience is not a substitute for ingenuity, and I benefited greatly from spending time with people both younger than me and in different educational systems. I also learned a great deal about designing a useful exercise for the On the Cutting Edge web page by participating in the review process. I saw many of my own shortcomings in the activities I reviewed and hopefully used this to improve my contributions to a valuable resource."
~Dennis Hubbard, Associate Professor of Geology, Department of Geology, Oberlin College

"I found this workshop [Teaching Environmental Geology] incredibly useful. Although I've been teaching for over 20 years, I learned many new strategies and tools that have totally re-energized my teaching. And the best part was meeting a cadre of colleagues from all types of institutions who share my passion for teaching."
~Thomas Juster, Department of Geology, University of South Florida

"I am a tenured, full professor of geology who teaches at a small 4-year primarily undergraduate institution and have now participated in 4 of the Cutting Edge workshops. The great value of them for me is the valuable new information and imaginative classroom activities that I gain with each workshop. The networking with colleagues across the USA to get a sense of the disciplinary geographic bandwidth and opportunities to collaborate, make the Cutting Edge workshops valuable to university faculty at all stages of their careers."
~Cathy Connor, Professor of Geology, Environmental Science Program, Department of Natural Sciences, University Alaska Southeast

"Over the past 10 years, I have participated in four On the Cutting Edge workshops. These workshops are not a picnic. The organizers demand preparation, effort, and follow through as the price of admission, but the payoff is enormous. My students have benefited tremendously from the resources and instructional techniques I have brought back to my classes. I have benefited even more from meaningful contact with thoughtful colleagues who have inspired me and helped me to sustain my enthusiasm for teaching effectively. I highly recommend these workshops for both novice and 'seasoned' instructors alike!"
~Dr. Lawrence D. Lemke, Associate Professor, Dept. of Geology, Environmental Science Program Director, Wayne State University

Over the last ten years or so, I have attended a large number of face-to-face On the Cutting Edge Workshops on a variety of subject areas and themes. Despite nearly 32 years of teaching experience at the college level across a variety of subjects and class levels, I have always left a workshop feeling that I had gained valuable information that would make me a better teacher and help me improve my classes. Not only did I learn new subject content, my participation in these workshops has deepened my understanding of pedagogy, sharpened my pedagogical content knowledge and introduced me to new teaching strategies and skills. These insights came not only from the organized activities of the workshop, but also from the participants, who represented a wealth of teaching knowledge and experience that I was fortunate to have interacted with. This interaction also expanded my network of educators I could work with and helped me to view the questions of teaching outside of the narrow confines of my home institution. If you want to improve your teaching, I heartily recommend On the Cutting Edge workshops to instructors at any stage in their professional career.
~ Dr. James D. Myers, Department of Geology & Geophysics, University of Wyoming

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