Using GER Results in Course Design

Jennifer Sliko, Penn State University

An important step in designing or redesigning any class is to examine published geoscience education research for guidance on best practices in course design. This is especially true if the class incorporates non-traditional pedagogical approaches (that students may not be familiar with). Hence, when redesigning an introductory physical geology class into an online format, I conducted a literature search for examples of "successful" online classes. Most published literature about online instruction focuses on course design, while literature incorporating geoscience education research examining the success of online courses is less abundant. While the literature describing class activities is helpful in developing the course, choosing which activities to incorporate can be difficult without a universally accepted metric to evaluate those activities. Additionally, most geoscience education research about online pedagogy typically evaluates only a small fraction of the class (or one class activity), while a semester-long evaluation could provide better insight about the overall pedagogical trends in that class.

To facilitate the promotion and translation of GER results into useful online course material, detailed course design should be coupled with the publication of the corresponding GER results. Specific course activities are more readily used if the activities can be easily incorporated into multiple course management systems and the completion of the activities are not dependent on an external online host (which can lead to broken links). Additionally, the GER community should continue to promote details about the tested materials through a broad audience (such as the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College website). Finally, the publication of GER research in more "traditional" research-based journals (such as Geology, Science, and Nature) will expand the readership of GER.