Designing Effective Lessons for your First Geoscience Course

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 8:30am-11:30am TSU - Humphries: 221


Karen Kortz, Community College of Rhode Island
Reginald Archer, Tennessee State University
Brendan Hanger, Colorado School of Mines

Participants will begin with the big picture of establishing course goals for introductory science courses and then narrow the focus to determine learning outcomes for select individual lessons. Participants will learn different active-learning strategies that can be used to help students achieve the learning outcomes and have time to explore the rich set of resources offered through Teach the Earth and similar collections. This workshop is targeted at those who are making their first attempt at designing their own geoscience course, whether at the introductory, general education, majors or K-12 level, as well those who wish to improve their existing courses.

This workshop is able to provide all of its eligible* participants a $375 stipend that can be used toward registration compensation for the three days of the workshop. Funding is available to provide qualified* participants with the stipend unless they choose to waive it by contacting Katherine Ryker. Small travel stipends are also available on a needs-basis. To apply for a travel stipend, please complete the travel stipend application form by May 30. All stipends will be disbursed after the Rendezvous, provided you participate in the entire workshop.

*Please note that as these stipends are NSF-funded, to be supported by this funding, a participant must be either a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident, or in the employ of a U.S. institution. All participants are expected to participate in the entire workshop. If you are receiving another stipend from either the Adapting Active Learning Strategies in Your Courses or the Measuring and Increasing the Level of Inquiry in Science Laboratory Activities, the maximum registration stipend award is $500. Also note that if you receive funding for attending one of the workshops above or a travel stipend from this grant, that will count toward the $500 maximum travel stipend available from NAGT.


Many of us begin our teaching career by teaching someone else's course, whether it is the existing course at the institution or one you were given by an adviser or colleague. After doing this a handful times, you often want to make he course 'yours', but don't know where to start. This workshop aims to equip you with a toolbox of skills relating to course design and active learning, as well show you resources that can help your teaching. Participants will learn active-learning strategies and then design lessons using these strategies, giving and receiving feedback from other participants and the leaders. Throughout the workshop, the leaders will model different active learning strategies, such as think-pair-share, conceptest questions, minute papers, gallery walks, and jigsaws. Participants will work closely with each other and leave with several lessons completed and plans to complete other lessons.

Workshop Program »

Resources for Participants


This workshop is designed for anyone interested in designing (or redesigning) a course, especially those doing it for the first time. We seek participants from all types of institutions of higher education and across a broad spectrum of disciplines, and we particularly welcome graduate students who want to learn more about course design.


By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • articulate learning outcomes for several individual lessons within the context of their course goals
  • design lessons to achieve learning outcomes in their own course by applying active learning strategies


Each day will include an introduction to the topic(s) for the day, collaborative activities designed to make participants familiar with key concepts, sharing ideas about how to approach specific tasks, participants working on materials for their own classes, and a final opportunity for reflection about the morning's tasks.

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