Curriculum Design, Course Resources
Poster Project Final: Student Perceptions and Performance
Eileen Herrstrom, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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This poster summarizes the results of nine terms of teaching an introductory physical geology course with a poster project that replaces the final exam. The course is intended for students who are not planning to major in science, although some geology majors have come out of the class. It satisfies two general education requirements – one for physical science and one for quantitative reasoning. Ten years ago, the grade was based mostly on exams (70%) and the rest on laboratory exercises (30%). Since then, I have reduced the emphasis on tests and added several other types of assignments, along with the Poster Project. Pedagogical research and personal experience had shown me that exams do not always accurately measure a student's learning, and I wished to give students who do not test well other ways of demonstrating their knowledge. For the project, each student prepares a poster showing analysis of geological data using a spreadsheet. A series of quizzes illustrates best practices in poster-making, and several parts of the poster are due throughout the semester. During the scheduled final exam time, students display their posters and review others' work. The project has proved to be an effective way for students to demonstrate their spreadsheet skills and to study a topic in depth. Evaluations show that 89% of students prefer the project to a written final examination, and 64% score better on the poster than on the midterm exams. Thus, the project does provide an avenue for students who perform poorly on written tests to improve their grades. There is a group of students who preferred the project but would probably have scored better on an exam. Most low scores resulted from not submitting all parts of the project. Many evaluations have urged me to keep the project in the course.
Resources for Learning and Teaching Critical Zone Science
Don Haas, Cornell University-Endowed Colleges
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Critical Zone Observatories (CZOs) study the interactions of rock, soil, air, water, and life in the area between the bottom of the water table and the tops of the vegetation. These National Science Foundation-funded CZOs are natural watershed laboratories for investigating Earth surface processes mediated by fresh water. Research at CZOs seeks to understand these little-known coupled processes through monitoring of streams, climate/weather and groundwater. CZOs are instrumented for hydrogeochemical measurements and are sampled for soil, canopy and bedrock materials. CZOs involve teams of cross-disciplinary scientists whose research is motivated and implemented by both field and theoretical approaches, and include substantial education and outreach. This session will share resources and approaches for learning and teaching Critical Zone (CZ) science. The interdisciplinary nature of CZ science makes it an excellent gateway to teaching that reflects science's three-dimensional nature. CZ content is relevant primarily for middle school through undergraduate instruction. The fact that the CZ covers the entirety of every continent, and addresses issues across geosciences, makes teaching CZ science relevant and useful to a wide range of curricula, and for teaching about the importance and nature of systems science. Nine fully-funded CZOs exist across the US and are situated in a wide range of ecosystems and upon a wide range of geologic contexts allowing for comparisons across sites and to the local environments of instructors and students. Resources shared in the session will include materials for a general introduction to CZ science, Virtual Fieldwork Experiences (VFEs) of individual CZOs, information about social media where CZ science is regularly shared, information on Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and for Teachers (RET) programs, and about professional development opportunities for educators. The session will include exploration of CZO VFEs and associated teaching activities.
Accessing and Comparing Lake and River Gauge Levels and Precipitation Data in Local Water Bodies
Sharon Browning, Baylor University
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Students participate in a field trip to a local dammed river and associated lake (Waco Lake, Texas) managed by the Army Corp of Engineers for flood control and the municipal source of water for Waco, Texas. Evidence for lake level changes in the past five years is identified by direct observation and previous photographs taken at the site. Monthly lake levels and precipitation data from January 2010 through October 2015 are downloaded from NOAA and the USGS for comparison and interpretation with student observations. Specific goals include the identification and correlation of low and high water levels with precipitation totals as well as the correlation of previously taken photographs with lake levels. In addition, students consider and discuss effects of management practices of the Army Corp of Engineers on lake level response. As an extension, students also download monthly gauge levels from the nearby Brazos River for the same time period for interpretation and comparison to both the precipitation data and differences in river response versus lake level response. This activity is designed for an intro-level geology lab course and is populated by predominantly non-science majors fulfilling a lab science requirement. It is presented during a lab on surface water and requires students to be familiar with Microsoft excel and general river processes. Downloaded data corresponds to the current semester, and is updated as necessary.
Case Study Approach to Teaching Introductory Physical Geology
Dan Olson, Edgewood College
Amy Schiebel, Edgewood College
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In fall of 2015 we completely reworked our introductory physical geology course for non-majors. Our goals were to: Engage the students more meaningfully with the material. Help students to see the relationships between the earth sciences and major issues affecting them today. Understand the nature of science. Examine current issues through an earth science lens. Increase student daily attendance and performance on exams. Include all traditional physical geology course content. Five extended case studies that focused on current geoscience issues were developed for their ability to create a framework through which basic physical geology content could be introduced and reinforced over the course of the semester. Three of the cases require groups of students to take on the role of a particular stakeholder in the issue allowing students to learn the science content as well as make societal connections. The course has been run using case studies in two different formats. During the fall semester it is taught using a straightforward lecture lab format with three, one-hour lectures and one, two-hour laboratory session per week. In the spring semester, that same course is taught in a workshop format meeting twice a week in three-hour blocks. Pros and cons of each will be discussed. Assessment of the course indicates that progress was made towards reaching all six of the stated goals. A general overview of the course will align the earth science content objectives with individual case studies. Two of the case studies will be presented in detail.
Communicating Geoscience Concepts In The Classroom And Beyond Using Short Videos
Jennifer Wiggen, North Carolina State University
David McConnell, North Carolina State University
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We created a series of geoscience videos to support student learning in an introductory physical geology course. We incorporated aspects of effective multimedia design (e.g., brief videos featuring spatial and temporal contiguity of items, modality, coherence) that have been shown to enhance student learning. Videos are presented in two forms: 1) Relatively brief 5-7 minutes long videos designed for pre-class viewing in a flipped class setting; and, 2) Even shorter (1-2 minute) videos to support supplemental instruction and/or class demonstrations. A typical flipped video lesson would contain specific parts that can be matched against a similar textbook assignment to allow for comparison of student performance in different learning environments. In the context of this study, students were given a video or text-based resource followed by a series of assessments featuring knowledge and comprehension questions. Students who reviewed class videos show greater learning gains and had higher confidence in their learning than students who had completed equivalent textbook reading assignments. We shared the videos via a YouTube channel, GeoScienceVideos (http://youtube.com/c/Geosciencevideos/), to make them available to a wider audience. On the basis of total views, the most popular videos characterize rock types, explain the process that occur at plate boundaries, and describe basic concepts such as fault types and porosity and permeability. YouTube has become one of the largest and most popular websites on the Internet with more than one billion users. While the majority of these users are probably not visiting YouTube to become great scholars of geoscience, YouTube has the potential to communicate geoscience content and support learning in a much more diverse audience than found in a typical introductory science classroom.
Is Punxsutawney Phil accurate? Using pop culture to teach undergraduates data analysis techniques
Karen Koy, Missouri Western State University
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The 100-level Introduction to Meteorology course is a requirement for Natural Sciences and secondary science education majors. It also attracts a significant proportion of non-majors. This seems to be the perfect opportunity to teach undergraduates basic data gathering and analysis skills. The course's final project requires the students to analyze the accuracy of Punxsutawney Phil's Groundhog Day predictions. We start out with a discussion of the history of Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil, then review previous attempts to assess Punxsutawney Phil's accuracy. We discuss how different authors have approached their analysis, and potential shortcomings or advantages of their methods. After the discussion, the students design their own analysis. They have to first decide what type of data to gather, and from where. This means they needed to determine the geographic and temporal extent of their data and which of the publically available datasets to use. They then have to decide on parameters for Punxsutawney Phil's "success" – how do you measure spring? How do you measure winter? What would constitute an accurate prediction? The students conducted an analysis of the data, and presented it as a poster during the final week of lab. These posters were evaluated both by the instructor and their peers, using a rubric.f
The Earthcube iSamples Network engagement and training: Helping teach sample management and stewardship to a broad audience of new geoscientists
Benjamin Hallett, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
Ashlee Dere, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Amanda J. Waite, University of Florida
Michael L. Tuite, Nasa
Kerstin A. Lehnert, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Megan Carter, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
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Most geoscientists collect and study physical samples (soil, rock, fossils, drill core, thin sections, water, gas, etc.). However, systems with the ability to link physical samples with digital information, such as publications or searchable data archives, are underutilized and undiscovered by many researchers. Sample registration at www.geosamples.org provides a virtual representation for a physical object and a persistent unique identifier for it called the International Geo Sample Number (IGSN). Use of unique identifiers is now making it possible to discover physical objects and the analytical data associated with them across publications and databases. A digital "internet of samples" is beginning to emerge, helping researchers discover and share sample collections. Use of such systems fulfills Data Management Plans mandated by the NSF while making strides toward reproducibility of scientific research and improved sample information retention in student-centered research labs with relatively high turnover. The EarthCube iSamples Research Coordination Network members are developing online training modules for educators/research supervisors to train student scientists in physical sample collection, documentation, and management workflows. Student training materials are made available online and ultimately modularized for supervisors to customize a research workflow. The initial goal of this project is to enable a system that can be modified by any educator/research supervisor to add his/her own workflow information and build upon existing modules. This study details the design and development of a modularized sample management/registration scheme for one author's field-based metamorphic petrology research. This training was documented in collaboration with undergraduate research students in field and lab settings. We invite educators to share their own sample management/registration workflows and to develop their own training modules to help build a system whereby students can learn sample and data stewardship.
Gauging how novice geologists process and learn in first field experiences
Megan D'Errico, Sonoma State University
David Kimbrough, San Diego State University
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Field-based courses at the university level are logistically difficult, but an essential part of the learning process in geology. We present a pilot study related to two field trips (Grand Canyon, AZ; Rainbow Basin, CA) in the fall semester for a required course (GEOL200) for all majors and minors in Geological Science, at San Diego State University. Through post-field surveys, we captured student data to better understand how novice geologists master basic field techniques and spatial thinking, and how they decipher the geologic story of a new field area. After a group-paced field trip to the Grand Canyon, data (Likert scale from 0-5, least to most) shows that all students felt their geologic knowledge was growing (avg=4.0). Majority of students also felt they had the basic geologic knowledge and skills from previous classroom experience to produce a good map (avg=2.8). Two days (group mapping, independent mapping) were spent in Rainbow Basin, CA. In comparison to the first survey, students felt more comfortable working independently after completing their first field exercise alone (third experience overall). From descriptions of how they managed their time independent mapping, 22% reported they didn't manage their time well and couldn't map the whole area, and despite identifying poor time management, another 26%, could describe their planning and identified what they would do differently next time mapping. In these field experiences, instructional changes implemented included: providing students with a Google Earth image and directing students to reconnaissance the entire map area first. We conclude that having three field experiences, gradually making students more independent, prepared them to manage their time and accomplish their first independent geologic map. The educational journey of a novice geologist is different for each student and we aim to provide them with the safe, encouraging space to survey a new field area.
CogSketch worksheet: Promoting sketching in the geosciences with interactive technology
Bridget Garnier, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Maria Chang, Northwestern University
Carol Ormand, Carleton College
Basil Tikoff, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Tim Shipley, Temple University
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Sketching is a valuable activity to help students develop spatial skills and understand difficult geoscience concepts. Yet, sketching is rarely implemented at the introductory level due to the time needed to grade and provide constructive feedback. Our interdisciplinary team has developed a set of geoscience sketching exercises that utilize a sketch-understanding program with a built-in virtual tutor, CogSketch. Our CogSketch worksheets are designed to help students understand difficult concepts from introductory geoscience. We have incorporated the results of cognitive science research into each worksheet, highlighting the spatial skill most critical to gaining mastery of the specific topic. In particular, we utilize the capabilities of CogSketch to allow students to interact with diagrams in ways that are difficult on paper. The virtual tutor allows students to receive on-demand feedback to correct their sketch. We have created 26 CogSketch worksheets addressing topics ranging from atomic to planetary scale processes and concepts. The CogSketch worksheets were used in an introductory physical geology course at UW-Madison in Spring 2014, which typically did not incorporate student sketching. The undergraduate students had little difficulty in using CogSketch, and employed the virtual tutor to correct common mistakes. Faculty were willing to use CogSketch because it required little instructor grading time, and yet provided activities with a strong grounding in cognitive science principles.
Improving undergraduate writing by communicating local geological knowledge
Benjamin Linzmeier, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Stephen R. Meyers, University of Wisconsin-Madison
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Local geological knowledge is usually not highlighted in general geology textbooks that are used in high schools, and thus they do not incorporate hands-on learning opportunities that can engage and inspire new geologists. University faculty with expertise in local geology can disseminate knowledge, but must balance outreach with the demands of teaching and research. We have developed a strategy to leverage teaching time at the university to create lasting and updatable outreach materials, while building the written science communication skills of undergraduate geoscientists. Undergraduate students and faculty work together to create written summary documents highlighting the scientific importance of local geology geared toward communicating these results to high school science teachers and students. This approach was chosen because undergraduate students are rapidly learning complex jargon and how to interpret it, they may have an inherent appreciation for what could spark non-expert interest, and written summary communication helps foster critical thinking for the undergraduate students. The pilot implementation of this project was run in the fall of 2013 in a Sedimentology and Stratigraphy class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Students worked in groups to produce a guidebooks with the following parts; a general overview of the geological history of Wisconsin, a summary of an important research problem in sedimentary geology addressed by rocks in the southwest corner of the state, an introductory guide to looking at outcrops in the area, and a summary of a societally relevant problem related to local geology. Future development of this outreach-as-learning approach can help to disseminate research results from the geoscience literature to local communities and change student perceptions of their roles as scientists
Utilizing an Interdisciplinary Approach to Geoscience Writing for Introductory Geology Courses
Mitchell Scharman, Marshall University
Kristen Lorraine Lillvis, Marshall University
Anna Rollins, Marshall University
Amber Wright, Marshall University
Shayla Owens, Marshall University
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In the geosciences, writing is key to describing thoughts, observations, and data to effectively communicate results and interpretations. However, written communication of geological ideas is often a difficult task for students in introductory courses. Even though assignments, quizzes, and exams in introductory geology courses might require students to communicate through written responses, faculty rarely teach students how to write in the discipline. Work between the Geology Department, English Department, and Writing Center at Marshall University has allowed us to approach the problem of introductory geoscience writing with an interdisciplinary focus. In order to improve student writing in introductory geoscience courses, we developed an instructional method that used rubrics focusing on content knowledge and science writing conventions. Students were introduced to the rubric during an in-class writing assignment through discussion led by the Geology lecture professor, an English professor, and the University Writing Center's director and teaching assistants. Specific attention was given to breaking down the writing prompt to understand what the question was asking and to writing a response that satisfied the requirements of the rubric. After familiarizing themselves with the rubric, students participated in assessing the rubric and were offered the opportunity to revise the rubric. The final rubric as agreed upon by professor and students was displayed during each exam period. We determined that using an interdisciplinary approach provides a method to better instruct written communication, which is commonly difficult for introductory geoscience students.
Experiencing the Scientific Method in a General Education Weather Course
Thomas Kovacs, Eastern Michigan University
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The main learning objective of the Eastern Michigan University (EMU) course, Introduction to Weather and Forecasting, is to obtain a working knowledge of the development of a weather forecast. Developing a weather forecast (or prediction) is an excellent example of a result of using the scientific method. The vast majority of students that take introductory science courses in college are not science majors and take the course to satisfy some general education requirement. A critical goal of these courses should be to teach the scientific method in an experiential way. The purpose of this presentation is to describe a course that is completely structured to do just that. The course units are organized similar to the linear progression in which the scientific method is often presented. The first unit is to learn the observations necessary to make a good weather prediction. The second unit shows how those observations can be presented (e.g. weather maps, soundings, etc.). The third and fourth units present the important hypotheses and theories used to analyze these observations (e.g. Archimedes Principle, Newton's Laws of Motion, etc.). The fifth and sixth units present how this information is used to make predictions of the general weather conditions (i.e. high and low temperature and precipitation). The seventh and final unit presents the special prediction techniques of severe weather forecasting. Student evaluations have been largely positive with 83% of students rating the course as above average. Furthermore, attendance, in this course, which is not taken or graded, is typically over 95% on average. Attainment of the main learning objective has not been formally assessed.
Project-based science instruction for general-education undergraduates and seventh graders: Practices, proficiency, and pitfalls
Walter Borowski, Eastern Kentucky University
Malcolm P. Frisbie, Eastern Kentucky University
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For three semesters we conducted a general-education course designed for both undergraduates and seventh-graders in which students investigated contaminant sources and water quality of a local stream. The middle school students attend a local, county school that draws its students from disadvantaged areas of the town of Richmond, Kentucky. Undergraduates were general-education honors students with little predilection toward science. The instructors guided undergraduates through the project, and our honors students then mentored the middle-schoolers in their scientific endeavors. Both sets of students serially investigated the chemical and biological properties of a typical upland stream (Tates Creek, Madison County, Kentucky) impacted by anthropogenic activities as dictated by land use. Students measured water properties such as temperature, conductivity, pH, and oxygen content then sampled stream waters to quantify dissolved nutrient concentration, fecal microbes (Escherichia coli), and stream macroinvertebrates. Nutrients (ammonium, nitrate, and phosphate) were measured by colorimetry and E. coli were counted using rapid-assay, IDEXX methods. Students also assessed water quality by classifying and counting macroinvertebrates, and using an established water quality index. Students then summarized their findings with group presentations. Middle-schoolers researched aspects of anthropogenic contamination and stream ecology to present their work as poster projects at an event on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University. Undergraduates gave group presentations in class following the format of an oral presentation at a scientific conference. Courses with embedded projects are challenging from logistical, fiscal, and pedagogical standpoints. Assessment of overall course effectiveness continues, but several aspects emerge. The course seemed most effective for middle-schoolers where teachers saw students actively engage in all aspects of the project, even those students who are generally disinterested in science. Results from undergraduates were mixed. Honors students enjoyed mentoring the seventh graders, but did not fully grasp the impact and nuances of project findings.
From zero to Matlab in six weeks
Frederik Simons, Princeton University
Adam Maloof, Princeton University
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In 2015, a Fall "Freshman Seminar" at Princeton University (http://geoweb.princeton.edu/people/simons/FRS-SESC.html) taught students to combine field observations of the natural world with quantitative modeling and interpretation, to answer questions like: "How have Earth and human histories been recorded in the geology of Princeton, the Catskills, France and Spain?" (where we took the students on a data-gathering field trip during Fall Break), and "What experiments and analysis can a first-year (possibly non-future-major) do to query such archives of the past?" In the classroom, through problem sets, and around campus, students gained practical experience collecting geological and geophysical data in a geographic context, and analyzing these data using statistical techniques such as regression, time-series and image analysis, with the programming language Matlab. In this poster I will detail how we instilled basic Matlab skills for quantitative geoscience data analysis through a 6-week progression of topics and exercises, and how in the 6 weeks after the Fall Break trip, we strengthened these competencies to make our students fully proficient for further learning, as evidenced by their end-of-term independent research work.
TerraElm: An exercise in earth science instruction
Peter Anderson, Wharton County Junior College
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Public science education is a not just a service industry for the community it can also act as a tool by which graduate students in the field of Earth Science can be trained. The classroom setting is often a relatively low-stress and fun environment for grad students to develop their communication abilities, but it also requires them to address a much less informed audience. This method can be evaluated through a qualitative study of the participants directly involved in the school presentations. To gain efficacy in teaching to the level of your audience the graduate student participants are required to, by necessity, develop a curriculum that K-12 students can process and actively engage. The participants in this program learn communicative skills, which we as graduate students typically develop in graduate school, through a trial and error process. Participants in our program, both improve their overall comprehension of the subject material as well as their ability to communicate it. Initial assessments of the merits of participation within this program show a positive correlation between participation and a perceived improved instructional ability. We are actively evaluating additional qualitative assessments to allow us to test the validity of our initial results. This program and its philosophy provide justification for the development of new instructional techniques that take advantage of graduate students that enjoy the teaching process. This program needs to be seen as more than just civic engagement within college adjacent communities, but as a potential teaching practicum that benefits the graduate students too.
A Pilot Study of Spatial Thinking for Meteorology Education
Peggy McNeal, Towson University
Todd Ellis, Western Michigan University
Heather Petcovic, Western Michigan University
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The important role of spatial thinking in STEM education is established, yet minimally applied to meteorology education and the study of atmospheric sciences. Weather forecasting, involving hand plotting of isopleths, visualization of three-dimensional atmospheric processes, interpretation of computer-generated forecasting products and conceptualization of atmospheric motion, draws heavily on spatial reasoning. Understanding how meteorologists employ these skills in the forecasting process has implications for meteorology and atmospheric science education. A pilot survey investigating how meteorologists and meteorology students engage in spatial thinking during forecasting was created to inform future research. The survey was administered to fifty participants at the American Meteorological Society's annual meeting in January 2016 followed by online administration through the spring of 2016. Using written explanations and diagrams, we first introduced participants to six types of spatial thinking previously identified in the literature: visual penetrative ability, perspective taking, mental animation, mental rotation, object location memory and disembedding. Participants then interacted with nine products illustrating a weather event from the fall of 2015, including visible and water vapor satellite imagery, radar base reflectivity and velocity products, surface observation analyses, 500 mb geothermal height plots and model forecast four-panel plots. Finally, participants indicated whether they used each of the six types of spatial thinking in interpreting each product. Initial data analysis suggests that mental animation figures highly in the forecasting process and merits closer investigation. The results of this pilot study point to a need for collaboration between cognitive scientists and meteorology educators and for drawing from successful studies of spatial thinking in the geosciences. It is anticipated that understanding spatial thinking in meteorology will enhance meteorology education, increase student retention in the discipline and encourage a more profound understanding of atmospheric processes.
Evaluation of Field-based Service Learning in Sustainability Courses
William Forbes, Stephen F Austin State University
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This poster presents evaluation of field-based learning in courses within the Sustainable Community Development program at Stephen F. Austin State University. Course fieldwork includes: citizen restoration of an urban forest preserve through removal of non-native plants; and surveys of resident perceptions of local environmental issues. The poster also addresses plans for before and after evaluation of study abroad courses that measure cultural interaction, cultural risk, effectiveness of ecological restoration projects such as riparian tree planting and erosion control, and economic benefits of tourism development.
Implementing a Major Physical Geology Course Revision with InTeGrate Modules
Elizabeth Nagy-Shadman, Pasadena City College
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An introductory physical geology class at a two-year college has been significantly revised during Spring 2016 by replacing about 50% of the laboratory activities with newly developed InTeGrate activities. By design InTeGrate activities incorporate real data, promote systems thinking, and focus on active-learning pedagogical techniques such as jigsaws, cooperative learning, gallery walks, concept mapping, role-playing, etc. A primary objective of the InTeGrate materials is to improve earth literacy of all undergraduate students. Emphasizing the relevance of earth science issues to the students' own lives facilitates this goal. New course materials used in this study included six plate boundary activities, six mineral resource activities, four soil resource activities, and two natural hazards activities. Each activity is designed to take 50-60 minutes. These additions necessitated removal of several activities from the previous course syllabus. One of the principal changes was the removal of a department-wide mineral exam. The preparation for this exam, which includes a class period dedicated to a "practice exam" and a class period to take the exam, accounts for almost half of the time needed for the new material. Other changes included shorter coverage of the three rock types, removal of an introductory lecture on universe/solar system formation, and removal of some ancillary topics such as a slab-dip exercise and a tsunami activity. Students were more successful on InTeGrate "scenarios" assessments, such as describing mitigation strategies that would decrease seismic risk, than they were at, say, describing the type of motion and prevailing stresses at the three types of plate boundaries. Given that many institutions consider introductory physical geology courses as an opportunity to identify future geoscience majors, the curricular changes described here presented geoscience topics in a more accessible manner and fostered interest among students traditionally turned-off by the disconnect between the course and their own lives.
The Rewards and Challenges of Encouraging Instructors to Adopt InTeGrate Materials
Diane Doser, University of Texas at El Paso
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During the 2015-2016 academic year we began a series of workshops to introduce instructors at El Paso Community College (EPCC) and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) to InTeGrate materials. The workshops included tutorials on navigating the InTeGrate website, example syllabi showing how InTeGrate materials were implemented into face to face and on-line course materials, and "hands-on" run throughs of selected activities from the Climate of Change, Environmental Justice and Freshwater and A Growing Concern modules. Our first workshop held the first Friday afternoon of classes attracted 26 instructors (full-time faculty, lecturers, teaching assistants) from EPCC and UTEP including instructors from Chemistry and the Biological Sciences. This was the first time that many of the instructors had met one another and the workshop included time for social activities as well as covering instructional topics. A second workshop held in October involved 9 participants and a workshop in February focused on helping graduate student teaching assistants. About 30% of workshop participants went on to use InTeGrate materials for the first time in their fall or spring courses. Graduate students and newer faculty were more likely to adopt InTeGrate materials into their courses following a workshop, with several requesting follow-up consultations to determine how their course syllabi could be matched with InTeGrate content. About 15% of the instructors did not go on to use InTeGrate materials, but they did report adopting other active learning strategies in their courses. Nearly all instructors who used one InTeGrate activity in their class went on to include another InTeGrate activity the next time they taught the course.
Recruiting, Retention, Diversity
Translating Research into Practice Through the Geoscience Alliance
Nievita Bueno Watts, Purdue University-Main Campus
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How can we increase the number of Native Americans trained in the Earth and Environmental Sciences? Indigenous peoples are already feeling the effects of a changing climate on lifeways. Tribal leaders want indigenous voices to be heard when environmental decisions are being made. One way for Native voices to be heard is for Native peoples to seek advanced degrees in Earth and environmental science. The Geoscience Alliance is a national organization dedicated to this idea. I conducted interviews with fifteen Native American geoscientists and ten directors of programs designed to increase the number of Native Americans in Earth and environmental science degree programs. To make progress in broadening participation as a discipline we need to move from an exclusionary model to an inclusionary model. Pathways must be built from trusted relationships, and these relationships take time. When working with Native communities it is a long term commitment. Suggestions include: 1. Build a step-wise program which originates at tribal schools, goes through a 4-year college, and ends at a doctoral degree granting institution. 2. Visit schools and community events and bring hands-on experiences to the community. Educate the community on how to become an Earth scientist. 3. Summer Science and Math camps involving the community, university, local teachers and students, science educators, and elders. Make them ethnocentric, rooted in place, and multigenerational. 4. Promote and develop science fairs in the community and local school system. 5. Sponsor SACNAS or AISES chapters in your department. 6. Begin a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in conjunction with tribal college partners. The Geoscience Alliance is a national alliance of individuals committed to broadening the participation of Native Americans in the geosciences. Its members are faculty from tribal colleges, universities, and research centers; native elders and community members; industry representatives; students and teachers; and others.
Reforming geoscience laboratories instruction: impacts on student attitudes and achievement
Ann Long, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Rachel Oien, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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We present the results of transitioning laboratory activities in an introductory physical geology course from passive to active learning. It has been shown that student-driven investigation has the capacity to promote increased learner engagement and enhance retention, but surprisingly little research has documented the impact of reforming college-level laboratory classes. We observed the results of reforming individual laboratory classes in "Physical Geology", a large, introductory geology class at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, collecting attitude and performance data before and after the intervention. Laboratories most in need of reform were identified through instructor assessment and student survey. Interestingly, pre-reform student feedback was most negative for lab activities which are computer-based. In response, we removed computers from the lab space and increased the length and number of activities involving physical manipulation of samples and models, designing 6 new laboratory activities to be more collaborative, open-ended and "hands-on". The key finding is that both student course satisfaction and perceived course effectiveness increased after the reforms, both for individual labs and for the lab section as a whole. The change in student performance is also presented. These reforms were supported via the NSF's Widening Implementation & Demonstration of Evidence Based Reforms (WIDER) program.
Implementation of 'Discussion Question Breakout Sessions' in a Large Geoscience Lecture Course
Robert Graziano, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
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As education research suggests, the traditional model of only-lecturing in a large lecture class has given way to active learning strategies, even with class sizes greater than 100. Implementing discussion as an active learning strategy may be difficult in large lectures, however allowing students the opportunity to break from lecture to discuss a question or activity enhances the engagement and peer-to peer interaction that is essential for improving learning outcomes. A four-year review of educational strategies and learning outcomes in a large (100-200) lecture-only environmental geology course was completed to assess the impact of incorporating 'discussion question breaks' as an active learning strategy. The discussion question procedures involve a timed activity among quickly-assembled groups, and immediate interactive discussion of findings. The procedures have been modified within the four-year period to provide more 'checks and balances' to increase engagement, improve learning outcomes, and reduce student's ability to circumvent the discussion procedures. Assessment of this strategy has been completed through direct observations, responses to student survey data and comparisons of exam and/or course grades. Review of this strategy and its outcomes has proven its usefulness for student-student connections, student-instructor interaction, attendance-assessment correlations, learning outcomes and overall student satisfaction. The strategy of implementing 'discussion question breakout sessions' has been used in a large environmental geology lecture course. The enrollment of this course is typically 150+ non-science majors of all levels. This activity is targeted to the diverse background that is represented by this diverse set of students, but it can certainly be focused for smaller class sizes or majors courses. The strategy is particularly effective to: break up a longer (e. g., >1 hour) lecture-class; allow students to talk and interact with peers in a controlled setting; welcome the distraction of electronic devices; improve student-instructor interaction to decrease the 'intimidation factor'; enhance engagement and student-student connections; and increase resourcefulness and critical thinking skills.
Clear As Fine-Grained Sediment Mixed With Water: A Discussion Forum Activity
Karla Panchuk, University of Saskatchewan/ St. Peter's College
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A discussion forum intended to span the gap between once-weekly class meetings, and to train students to analyze their own knowledge, yields consistently remarkable discourse. Students participate in the discussion forum by posting their questions about that week's lecture. By the end of the week they also respond to at least two of their peers' questions. They are given a rubric outlining the criteria for their posts. Grading focuses on how clearly students articulate their question, and the extent to which they offer unique contributions to the discussion, but not on whether their responses to peers' posts are correct. The discussion forum has provided valuable insights into what students find unclear or confusing, because students are very specific about what is confusing them and why. These are topics I address in the next class if they haven't been answered sufficiently in subsequent posts. What is remarkable is how often their questions are deeply insightful, anticipate important concepts we haven't discussed yet, apply class topics in ways far removed what we have discussed in class, address very complex ideas or processes, or land on issues currently the focus of research or controversy in the scientific community. Also remarkable is the quality of responses, both in terms of etiquette and content. The forum works best with minimal intervention by the instructor. For a class of 23 students, grading takes 1 – 2 hours each week, and effectively involves a checklist. Addressing questions in the next class also provides an opportunity to model that most frightening of all situations, being caught not knowing an answer. I am clear about which of their questions had me stumped, and I explain how I went about finding the answer.
Research on student conceptions of plate tectonics - implications for instruction
Tanya Furman, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
Scott McDonald, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
Helen Gall, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
Kathryn Bateman, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
Arzu Tanis Ozcelik, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
Aubree Webb, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
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The NSF-funded Earth and Space Science Partnership at Penn State has been designing, conducting and assessing research into student learning of plate tectonics and solar system astronomy (two critical ideas for deep domain understanding) for five years. Over 530 student interviews from middle grades, high school and college have been videotaped, coded and analyzed to develop learning progressions; we focus here on plate tectonics. Partner teachers in Philadelphia and State College middle schools have employed instructional modules developed on the basis of this research, and videos of over 20 instructional days linked to pre-/post-instructional interviews document the impact of new content and pedagogical approaches on student learning. The plate tectonics team also developed an 8-question on-line assessment of student comprehension that has been nationally validated through analysis of over 1000 responses. Our work reveals important gaps in student understanding which we attribute to an instructional approach that emphasizes observations (both modern and historical) in the development of the plate tectonic paradigm, while deferring the mechanistic understanding to higher instructional levels that often are not available to students. As students strive to integrate the observations, many of which involve terminology rather than processes – layers of the earth, rocks and minerals, magnetic stripes on the sea floor – they construct self-consistent models of earth processes that are inevitably non-normative. In addition, pre-college instruction that emphasizes biological processes conveys the message that all energy on earth comes from the sun, resulting in a frequent student (and teacher) conception that volcanoes are most commonly found at the equator because the sunlight is strongest and most consistent there. Unfortunately, subsequent addition of new information does not result in the replacement and realignment of non-normative ideas but instead leads to models that are increasingly complex ways of reconciling disjointed material in support of these early-formed conceptual models.
Student Learning of Complex Earth Systems, Part I: Conceptual Frameworks of Earth Systems and Instructional Design
Hannah Scherer, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Lauren Holder, Texas A & M University
Bruce Herbert, Texas A & M University
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Engaging students in authentic problem solving concerning environmental issues in near surface complex earth systems involves both developing student conceptualization of the earth as a system and applying that scientific knowledge using problem solving techniques that model the thinking and reasoning of professionals, including adaptive management, risk assessment, and characterization of ecological services. As part I of a review of student learning about complex earth systems, this poster will review prominent conceptual frameworks of earth systems and approaches to instructional design for achieving student learning outcomes related to systems thinking. Drawing from a review of the discipline-based education research literature from the earth sciences and beyond, we will discuss the relationship between these frameworks, instructional approaches, and the types of learning outcomes that are supported. Finally, we will use agricultural systems as an illustrative example of a complex system to which these different frameworks can be applied. Input from the geoscience education research community is invited.
Assessment of Impact in Student Learning in Physical Geology using Learning Assistants.
Julia Nord, George Mason University
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The University of Colorado at Boulder Learning Assistant (LA) program has been shown to be very successful in increasing grades and engaging students in large lecture classes, increasing retention in sciences and also increasing confidence and GPA's for the undergraduate LA's. This program has been mainly used for math, chemistry and physics. George Mason University began working with the LA program in 2012 and now has over 50 undergraduate LA's in seven disciplines. Physical geology is different from most courses with LA's as it does not work with math-based problems. In spring 2015 we used an LA in an alternative classroom setting with 58 students, but very few students self-reported that the LA helped with learning. In Fall 2015 we had the 4 LA's attend lecture, a few labs and conduct office/tutoring hours. 47 students out of 223 respondents reported that they worked with a LA, and stated that the LA helped. However, participation out-of-class was low with only 2-5 students going to office hours per week, except for lecture test review days. This semester, Spring 2016, we have 4 LA's working with 2 Graduate Teaching Assistants and 2 faculty. The LA's attend 7 of 17 labs. The faculty, GTA's and LA's are working together to use more active learning in these labs with meetings and support provided following the SIMPLE model. We hypothesize that students with an LA in lab will have higher grades in lecture, have more confidence in their knowledge, have greater enthusiasm for the subject and be more likely to go on to other geology classes.
Teacher Preparation, Professional Development and Policy Issues
Policy-Ready Citizen Science
Daniel Dickerson, East Carolina University
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As part of a NOAA-funded project entitled, Policy-Ready Citizen Science, in Year 1 we planned and implemented three weeks of professional development for the teachers in Summer 2015. The first week the teachers met at Old Dominion University where they engaged in 3D printing, learning about 5E Learning Cycles, Problem-Based Learning, Environmental Issues in the Chesapeake Bay, and Water Quality Measurement. The Water Quality Measurement portion was led by James Beckley of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The teachers worked on lesson plans to pilot with students in weeks two and three. The focus of the lesson plans was using an AUV/glider that they would build to design a study and collect data about the Chesapeake Bay. The second week the teachers built a functioning AUV/glider using the SeaGlide design. Engineers from Naval Sea Systems Command helped lead the build. Each teacher brought two students with them so they could see that the students were able to do this type of work. Changing teacher attitudes about having students working with soldering irons and putting together electrical components was identified early as one of the key elements that needed to be addressed with the teachers. Every teacher successfully built an AUV/glider that they will keep for their classroom. The third week the teachers implemented the lessons they developed in week one and two with the rest of the group. Feedback was provided. They also practiced implementing the field portions of the AUV/glider complete with sensors to collect data regarding the scientific questions they developed. They also demonstrated the AUV/gliders, which was practice using them, to parents and children at the Children's Museum of Virginia. We will share lessons learned, including implementation within post-secondary environments.
Teaching inservice teachers with authentic data in an online environment
Eliza Richardson, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
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An overarching goal of the Master of Education in Earth Sciences program at Penn State University is to expose excellent and enthusiastic teachers to primary scientific research in Earth science so they can master educational objectives and translate their own discoveries directly back to their classrooms. The Next Generation Science Standards emphasize a learning process that is much more closely aligned with the way scientists actually conduct research, but mid-career secondary teachers were often not given the opportunity in their preservice training to learn content knowledge or analysis techniques in an authentic way. Here I present the challenges and successes in using lab-type activities in an online asynchronous environment. Challenges include the upfront time it takes to create a lab including writing clear and concise directions, using photos or short videos to demonstrate the methods and making sure the activity does not require dangerous or expensive materials. Student feedback collected even several semesters later demonstrates that these activities are memorable and that teachers were quite often able to repurpose them for use in their own classrooms. Because many of the activities involve the collection, analyzation and interpretation of digital datasets made freely available by university scientists, teachers are exposed to authentic data and required to practice useful skills such as plotting and grappling with large data sets. In fact, in some regards the online asynchronous environment actually increased learning and retention because teachers participated in our courses during their own school year and many of them were able to use the lab-type activities immediately in their own classrooms, which is an advantage over a summer workshop.
Arkansas Adopts NGSS: Here's the How and What as of Now
Wendi Williams, South Texas College
Michele Snyder, Arkansas Department of Education
Cathy Wissehr, University of Arkansas Main Campus
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The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) describe what students should know and be able to do in the sciences at all levels in the K-12 setting. Our community needs to engage and support educators at state and local pre-college levels and examine ways in which we may move our own practices closer to the vision outlined by NGSS. As a lead state, Arkansas has done just that! The current Science Standards for Arkansas were revised 2005 with revision slated 2011, but the State Board of Education agreed to delay until the 2013 release of NGSS. A committee of Arkansas teachers, administrators, scientists, professional developers, and Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) personnel worked throughout 2014-2015 to develop new K-4 and 5-8 science standards. After a 30-day public comment period, the Board approved the new standards for K-4 and 5-8 at their June 2015 session (triggering implementation fall 2016 and fall 2017, respectively). Work on high school standards began summer 2015 with teams of educators representing ADE, Math and Science Specialists from statewide Educational Cooperatives, 9-12 STEM faculty (many Advanced Placement), and higher education faculty from 2YC and 4YC STEM and Education/Teacher Preparation programs. As with the K-8 committee, sessions occurred four times for three days each over the following year. Our work has resulted in three main courses for all high school students (with embedded ESS), six career pathways courses (50% as ESS-dominated), and a number of electives, as well as Accelerated Model Course Pathways mapped from 5th into high school levels. It is anticipated that these science standards for Arkansas will be ready for public comment during late spring or summer and should go to the State Board before September 2016. After approval, implementation will begin in the fall of 2018.
Paired Teaching for Instructor Professional Development: Transferring Evidence-Based Pedagogies
Tara Holland, University of British Columbia
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Paired teaching is defined as a model of co-teaching in which the teaching team consists of two or more instructors sharing the planning, delivery, and assessment of instruction, as well as the physical space in the classroom. This model has been used with success in teacher education and social work education settings, where an explicit benefit is modeling and developing collaborative skills for learners. There is limited literature on co-teaching in geoscience education, but a paired teaching model can potentially be used as a professional development tool for Instructors, with the goal of disseminating effective, evidence-based teaching practices between faculty members. Multiple courses in the Earth, Ocean, & Atmospheric Sciences department at the University of British Columbia have been "transformed" through the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI) to incorporate best practices in instruction strategies; however, it is unclear to what degree these practices are transferred to instructors who were not a part of the course transformation team. We are investigating the potential of a paired teaching model (where an instructor who actively uses evidence-based practices is paired with either a new instructor, or one who has had limited exposure to such teaching practices) to achieve this dissemination. This work presents preliminary evidence of pedagogy transfer, based on classroom observations of 10 Instructors in paired teaching arrangements. Analysis of data from semi-structured interviews and weekly reflections done by instructors reveals the most effective roles that each instructor in the pair can play to facilitate this transfer. Benefits and challenges of paired teaching for professional development, as identified by the instructors who have taken part in the project to date, are outlined. Based on two years of research, recommendations are presented for how to achieve a successful pairing.
Teacher Preparation, Professional Development and Policy Issues
Measuring Student Learning Gains and attitudes in Earth and Environmental class for pre-service teachers after additional assignment to rocks and mineral identification lab
Matthew Schmus, Wright State University-Main Campus
Rebecca Teed, Wright State University-Main Campus
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Our goal as geosciences educators is to increase student learning and facilitate positive attitudes towards Earth science. This study measures the effects of a student project in Earth and Environmental Science Concepts I for Educators, a required class for Wright State University pre-service teachers. After they complete after the rock-and-mineral identification labs, the students research and present the common uses of a select mineral in society as groups. Students in each semester were graded mostly on developing a topic and critical thinking, along with grammar and citation. Fall semester pre/post-tests about geologic concepts and rocks and minerals show some learning gains, and the class average pre/post-test grade improved overall. These students reported that they gained moderate to good confidence levels and were less intimidated by geologic concepts after the assignment, but expressed little no interest or enthusiasm in taking more classes in geology. Fall semester projects had students work together to write a paper and presentation resulting in high grades with an average 95%, but it was evident from the presentations that some students participated more than others. In spring semester, students were required to write papers individually before creating presentations as small groups to increase student involvement. The average grade on the paper declined to 84%, but the contribution of each student to the presentation was visibly greater. Students felt little to moderate confidence before the assignment, according to preliminary spring-semester data. This study is important for the purpose of better learning in geology classes particularly for pre-service teachers who will want to also cultivate better learning in their own future classes.