Professional Development for Undergrads, Grads and Faculty & Online Education

Friday 1:30pm-4:00pm Weeks Geo: 140
Oral Session

Session Chairs

Kyle Fredrick, California University of Pennsylvania
Mike Brudzinski, Miami University-Oxford
1:30pm
Formally Integrating Professional Development into the Curriculum: A Required Course for Undergraduates
Kyle Fredrick, California University of Pennsylvania

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Fear is a powerful motivator. We often use this to our advantage as teachers and advisors of undergraduate students. But when students are not cognizant of the expectations they'll need to meet in the professional world, they lack a healthy fear that might spur them to better prepare. Over several years of program development, and through student and alumni feedback, we found that our students were not as prepared as they should be for graduation and what comes next. An almost-ubiquitous problem we encountered was students asking questions in their final year of an undergraduate program that should have been asked and answered much earlier. But how do you disseminate professional development lessons in a formal way that will reach ALL of the students? Our answer to that question was the introduction of a required course in our BS Geology degree entitled, Professional Development for Geologists. The course covers a variety of topics we felt students should learn as undergraduates, but that don't fit in the content of normal geology classes. Example topics include finding and selecting graduate programs, preparing a discipline-specific resume, job-searching and interviewing skills, and professional networking methods and etiquette. The course is a one-credit requirement, with the option to take it up to three times. We emphasize it to sophomores to open their eyes to what lies ahead and to seniors for adding polish to their resume. After two consecutive offerings this academic year (2015-16), we've learned important lessons. Students are fearful and uncertain to their own detriment. Peer support and mentoring develops naturally through this non-content course focused on deeply held anxieties that they share. Exit interviews and course assessments show that the course has generated a more professional atmosphere in our program and has been a wake-up call for our students and faculty.
1:45pm
What experiences influence the teaching beliefs of future geoscience professors?
LeeAnna Chapman, University of San Diego
David McConnell, North Carolina State University

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Today's graduate students and post-docs will become tomorrow's future professors. The pedagogical beliefs of instructors impact how they structure their courses and whether they choose to use research-validated teaching methods that have been shown to improve student learning. How can we promote the development of reformed teaching beliefs among these future professors? This research follows a broad population of geoscience graduate students and post-docs over a two year period to evaluate changes in teaching beliefs and to determine the significance of experiences such as participation in professional development, experience as a teaching assistant, or progression further into their graduate program. The Beliefs about Reformed Teaching and Learning (BARSTL) survey was administered in to 609 geoscience PhD students and post-docs from various institutions across the US in year one. In year two, the BARSTL was re-administered to 308 of prior participants (51% of original population). The BARSTL is a 32-item Likert-type questionnaire designed to determine how aligned an instructor's pedagogical beliefs are to reformed-based teaching of science. To further investigate the pedagogical beliefs of this population, ten percent of the initial population (n=60) were interviewed during year one using the Teacher Belief Interview (TBI), a semi-structured interview with coding maps designed to capture the epistemological beliefs of teachers. A subset of this population was re-interviewed in year two. We will compare BARSTL and TBI scores between year one and year two to access if any change in teaching beliefs has occurred. We will present the findings of our study including experiences that influenced a shift toward more reformed pedagogy to suggest how we can best prepare our graduate students and post-docs for success in future careers.
2:00pm
Developing Your Professional Network through the National Association Of Geoscience Teachers
Erica Zweifel, Carleton College

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Developing your professional network has multiple professional and personal benefits; from expanding your influence and professional capacity to exploring and sharing teaching techniques. The National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) is a member-driven organization dedicated to fostering improvement in the teaching of Earth Sciences at all levels of formal and informal instruction, emphasizing the cultural significance of Earth sciences and disseminating knowledge in this field to the general public. NAGT offers a number of ways to improve and expand your professional network through a variety of opportunities for our members including two publications, workshop programming, three topical focused divisions, and website offerings hosted through the Science Education Resource Center. A growing number of geoscience educators are strengthening their professional networks with NAGT. Locating and connecting members of the geoscience education community with shared values and interests is an important part of the networking component. NAGT's topical divisions assist community members who wish to work on the topics of 2 year college faculty, geoscience education research, and teacher preparation. We offer a peer reviewed journal (Journal of Geoscience Education) and a news magazine (In The Trenches), giving members of the geoscience education community two well-respected places to publish their research and activities. NAGT's website and the linked websites of its collaborating partners provides yet another peer reviewed venue for educators to showcase their pedagogy and to learn best practices of others. For those educators who are looking for expertise to come to their door, NAGT offers a traveling workshop program with two tracks: one with a departmental focus and the other with a focus on course design. Your participation in the Earth Educators' Rendezvous is an opportunity to network face to face with the geoscience education community, strengthening your relationships while working with those who share your interests and challenges while also learning from those who have divergent experiences.
2:15pm
Break
2:30pm
Learning So Fast You'll Freak: The Effect of Immersion on Online Learning Success
Mike Brudzinski, Miami University-Oxford
Stefany Sit, University of Illinois at Chicago

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We investigate the impact of a compressed, immersive teaching format on student learning in online courses based on a validated measure of learning outcomes. This study focuses on larger enrollment (50+) introductory undergraduate geology courses since 2007 that were evaluated with the Geoscience Concept Inventory (GCI). The impact of a course on student performance is estimated by calculating the normalized improvement, comparing end of course GCI scores with start of course GCI scores for each student. There were increased student performance gains that are both large and statistically significant following each of our main course revisions: from courses with a traditional lecture-based approach (9.2 ± 1.0%) to courses with an active learning revision (17.2 ± 0.8%), and then from those classroom-based active learning to courses with active learning delivered as hybrid or fully online (24.5 ± 2.0%). The improvements have been interpreted to be due to purposeful re-design of the courses to focus more on student engagement. The change to the e-learning format involved developing a wide range of new course components including: assignments each class period with automatic grading and feedback, regular use of software (Google Earth and Microsoft Excel) with video tutorials, and more realistic scientific investigations using authentic internet databases. We are able to isolate the impact of immersion in these courses, as fully online versions of the course were offered in both a traditional 15-week semester and a 3-week winter term, with essentially no change in course design other than the time frame. The GCI results indicate that student performance in the compressed 3 week course (30.3 ± 3.6%) was considerably higher than that in the 15 week course (19.7 ± 3.6%). These results indicate institutions should consider focusing e-learning efforts outside of the traditional 15-week semesters when compressed, immersive courses can be offered more readily.
2:45pm
Enhancing Student Understanding of Course Concepts: Integration of Service Learning in Online Geoscience Courses
Jennifer Nelson, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
Sarah Goss, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
Danielle Follette, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis

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Engaging college students in service learning (SL) improves students' ability to apply course concepts to "real-world" examples, and it is well documented that participation in service learning has a positive impact on students' classroom learning. Less is known about the role of SL in the online classroom, and several studies suggest that students taking online classes have difficulty connecting course concepts to local and global issues. We hypothesize that integrating an environmental SL component to an online course will lead to more environmentally-aware students who can accurately articulate connections between local and global environmental issues. To address this hypothesis, we have integrated participation in an environmental SL project in two online introductory geoscience courses, as an optional component for a required writing assignment. These SL projects are led by the Center for Earth and Environmental Science (CEES) at locations on and near the IUPUI campus, and students work with environmental managers and community members to address urban environmental issues at each project site. With each SL project, CEES leaders help students connect their ecosystem restoration efforts to concepts learned in class and students complete post-project reflections to assist them in making connections to their classroom learning. To understand the role that the use of SL pedagogy has in facilitating student knowledge acquisition and the application of course concepts, we are measuring student attitudes toward the natural environment, their level of environmental awareness pre- and post-SL project, and their performance on specific exam questions relative to peers that did not participate in the SL experience. In this presentation, we will explore current research on student engagement in the online geoscience course, discuss our implementation of SL in our online classes, and examine results of our research on whether participation in SL leads to increased student understanding of course concepts.
3:00pm
Developing synchronous team-based learning via Google Earth in a fully-online "natural disasters" introductory general education Earth Science course
Greg Baker, University of Kansas Main Campus
Jennifer Roberts, University of Kansas Main Campus

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In the current environment of classroom transformations, difficulties remain for pedagogical advancement in online courses. In particular, moving away from the textbook/exam style into any alternatives approximating the active-learning advances that are proven in the contemporary literature is challenging. In addition to utilization of existing online techniques (short instructor-led videos, quizzes, readings, term paper), we have developed a semester-long, project-based team exercise via Google Earth to incorporate both group- and synchronous-learning. These activities take place in an introductory course with 50 students in groups of 4-5, conducted entirely online. Teams build a database ("Earthlog") that is generated from daily natural disaster events. The exercise requires that students (I) learn GIS software (Google Earth), (II) remain actively engaged in the course on a daily basis via the Earthlog, (III) generate multiple-working hypotheses based on their data; (IV) develop temporal & spatial synthesis skills during frequent reflection components based on their data, and (V) communicate synchronously with each other throughout the semester. The exercise satisfies the team-based learning approach of Larry Michaelsen such that: students are organized in permanent instructor-assigned groups with diverse skill sets & backgrounds evenly distributed among teams; individuals are accountable for out-of-class work; there is an incentive for working effectively together as a team by giving significant credit for the team activities; and, that the exercise promotes both learning and team development. Clear challenges remain vis-à-vis classroom-based active-learning environments, such as (1) identifying poor-performers rapidly and effectively developing a course-correcting path, (2) constructing groups without significant (if any) face-to-face contact with students, (3) frequently emphasizing the group project overarching objectives (repeated emails are only minimally effective), and (4) allowing for intergroup interactions. Qualitative student feedback is positive beginning in the third week (after the expected "break in" period). Additionally, assessed work demonstrates proficiency in complex learning goals.
3:15pm
Eye-Tracking Assessment of the Usability of a Web-based Climate Decision-making Tool Used by Forestry Stakeholders in the Southeastern US
Lindsay Maudlin, North Carolina State University
karen mcneal, Auburn University Main Campus
Ryan Boyles, North Carolina State University
Heather Dinon Aldridge, North Carolina State University
Corey Davis, North Carolina State University
Rachel Atkins, North Carolina State University

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This work uses eye tracking to assess the usability of the web-based climate decision-making tool developed by the Pine Integrated Network: Education, Mitigation, and Adaptation project (PINEMAP), PINEMAP Decision Support System (DSS). The aim of this eye-tracking study is to assist the designers of PINEMAP DSS in producing an efficient and informative web-based climate decision-making tool tailored for use by foresters, land managers, and land owners across the Southeastern US as they make decisions regarding the health and future of pine trees under a changing climate. Thirty forestry stakeholders participated in the study, which consisted of free-exploration of the website followed by the completion of three tasks and related multiple-choice questions. The free-exploration portion of the study provides information on what users do when they are first exposed to the website (i.e., some users read all of the information tabs, some users immediately use the tool, and some users demonstrate a combination of reading and using the tool). The tasks were designed to utilize components of the website in order to determine how users interact with the website features, which design aspects draw user attention or are salient, and which design aspects confuse or distract users. Metrics that were measured include the length of time users spent navigating the climate information while completing the tasks and answering questions, accuracy of their responses, and fixation time and total duration within an area of interest (AOI). Furthermore, variables such as participant age, educational background, and gender were analyzed for influence on user performance on the assessed metrics. The results of this study will inform website designers and address the aspects of the PINEMAP DSS website as well as serve as a model project for utilizing eye-tracking results during the development of climate decision management tools for a variety of end-users and stakeholders.
3:30pm
Using Experiential Learning and Cultural Context in an Introductory Geology Online Course through an International Collaboration
Audeliz Matias, SUNY Empire State College
Alberto Aguilar- González, Tecnológico de Monterrey Chihuahua Campus

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In higher education we strive to advance learning by building well-rounded, global citizens. To face the new needs of a multicultural society, if we want to develop mindful global citizens, educators need to rethink current models of teaching driven by subject content alone, particularly in STEM fields. Thus, we ought to prepare citizens capable of identifying and implementing solutions to pressing global challenges of the twenty first century such as those related to economic growth and environmental issues. We united to develop a unique opportunity for undergraduate students at our respective institutions, thousands of miles away from each other. Our partnership focused on creating a space that allows not only for a multicultural experience, but also an interdisciplinary and intergenerational learning opportunity for the students. The international collaboration brought together students from the fully-online, lower level Introduction to Geology course at SUNY Empire State College in New York (U.S.A.) and the upper-level, face-to-face Mobile Application Development course at the Tecnológico de Monterrey, Chihuahua Campus in Mexico. The main goal of the project was to create and implement learning activities to help students understand that scientific and technological advances do not occur in isolation but rather within a cultural context driven by what society needs. Because the subject matter of our courses were so different, we decided to use the online geology course as the platform for the collaborative experience. A series of learning activities were developed, including an experiential learning group project. The journey was not easy and challenges abounded. In this presentation participants will learn about our approach to develop the activities, our findings based on the offering, lessons learned, challenges and the next steps.
3:45pm
Discussion