Creating Inquiry-Based Labs for Introductory Geology Courses

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 8-11am PT / 9am-12pm MT / 10am-1pm CT / 11am-2pm ET Online


Kelsey Bitting, Elon University
Katherine Ryker, University of South Carolina-Columbia
Rachel Teasdale, California State University-Chico

Inquiry based laboratory activities in undergraduate introductory geoscience courses are important opportunities to engage students in face-to-face and online environments. Often, laboratory activities are presented as a series of instructions and questions in a "cookbook" format that guide students to the right answer, but do not engage their curiosity or pursuit of scientific inquiry. Workshop participants will evaluate the level of inquiry in their current introductory geology lab activities, identify strategies to increase the level of inquiry in their labs, and spend time collaboratively developing a suite of inquiry based lab activities for use across institutions in undergraduate introductory geology in-person and online courses.

Note: This workshop will have a 1.5 hour pre-Rendezvous webinar on Tuesday, July 7 starting at 8:30 Pacific / 9:30 Mountain / 10:30 Central / 11:30 Eastern. This webinar will introduce a method to quantify a lab activity's level of inquiry and provide a time for participants to start getting to know each other.

All workshops will take place online, via Zoom (unless otherwise noted). Participants will be sent links to the Zoom room and connection info will be posted below prior to the session start.

Participant Workspace (private)

Session Connection Info

This workshop has already taken place.

This workshop will provide the first 40 eligible* participants who are registered and fully participate in the workshop with a $170 stipend, unless they choose to waive it by contacting Rachel Teasdale. As of the morning of May 22, 40 people have registered. People who register for the workshop after May 22, will be put on a list (in order of registration) to receive a stipend if any of the first 40 people cannot fully participate. All stipends will be disbursed after the Rendezvous.

*Please note that stipends are NSF-funded so to be supported by this funding, participants 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.

Who should attend

This workshop is intended for faculty and instructors who want to actively participate in the collaborative design and development of new inquiry labs for introductory geology. We envision participants will a) be involved in teaching or coordinating/overseeing the introductory geoscience labs at their college or university; or 2) otherwise interested in actively participating in and contributing to designing and writing inquiry-based, introductory geology labs.


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

  • characterize the levels of inquiry present in sample lab activities in geology labs
  • identify specific strategies to increase the inquiry level of their own lab activities and prepare strategies to implement them
  • create a higher-level inquiry lab addressing one of six commonly taught topics, including minerals, rocks, plate tectonics, earthquakes, geologic time, and groundwater


  • Day 1: Research-based outcomes and small group exploration of inquiry-based lab activities, including their effect on student learning and interest
  • Day 2: Inquiry-based lab design (small groups)
  • Day 3: Peer-review and revision of inquiry-based labs (whole group and small groups)

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