Thinking Big: A School-Wide Course Transformation at the University of Hawai'i's School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST)

Friday 11:30am-1:30pm UMC Aspen Rooms


Barbara Bruno, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Sarah Bean Sherman, University of British Columbia
Sara Harris, University of British Columbia
We aim to fundamentally transform undergraduate geoscience instruction at the University of Hawai'i, Mānoa (UHM) School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) based on the Science Education Initiative (SEI). The SEI model involves redesigning courses based on learner-centered approaches that have been shown to produce significant learning gains. Twenty-eight faculty across the ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences have signed up to date. We hope to begin this experiment in the 2015-2016 school year, pending a successful funding decision on an NSF Improving Undergraduate Science Education (IUSE) Geopaths proposal.

This project is not only evidence-based, but evidence-generating. At SOEST, we have a rare opportunity to generate a solid picture of the state of teaching and student learning before any transformation takes place, which will contribute to the body of literature on the efficacy of course transformation. Results from specific course transformations will contribute to the literature on effective learning within SOEST sub-disciplines, such as geology and oceanography.

Educational researchers will guide faculty through course design and evaluation. Their role is to share a range of proven instructional and assessment strategies, and to train faculty in their use. A key premise is that it is the geoscience faculty who are responsible for designing, implementing and evaluating an educational research experiment of their own choosing. The instructors are the experimenters, not the subjects of an SEI-led experiment.