Oral Session VI: Effective Curriculum and Teaching Practices in the Geosciences

Wednesday 12:00-1:10pm PT / 1:00-2:10pm MT / 2:00-3:10pm CT / 3:00-4:10pm ET Online

Session Chair

Hannah Scherer, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ


12:05 PT / 1:05 MT / 2:05 CT / 3:05 ET
The Food-Energy-Water-Nexus as a Framework for Advancing Education and Education Research
Hannah Scherer, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Nicole Sintov, Ohio State University-Main Campus
Hui-Hui Wang, Purdue University-Main Campus
Cory Forbes, The University of Texas at Arlington

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The Food-Energy-Water-Nexus (FEW-Nexus) framework offers a way to understand the interplay between natural systems and their human dimensions in the space where these three resources, each vital to human society, intersect. The National Collaborative for Research on Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW) is a community of educators and education researchers dedicated to innovating FEW-Nexus teaching and learning in an array of educational contexts. Working groups, organized by educational context, provide thought leadership to drive NC-FEW goals forward. Foundational efforts by working groups led to identification of promising practices and important challenges that arise from using the FEW-Nexus as a conceptual framework to inform teaching, learning, and future research. In post-secondary education settings, the FEW-Nexus offers an ideal space for efforts aimed at advancing interdisciplinary teaching and learning, and can also support the development of systems thinking. Further, the FEW-Nexus challenges traditional structures of degree programs focused on mono-disciplinary outcomes, and raises the question of how education systems themselves may consider adapting to better address future needs. In K-12 education, the FEW-Nexus compels a view of scientific literacy for K-12 learners that is supportive of a sustainable future and necessary for responsible citizenship. The FEW-Nexus motivates collaboration across traditional K-12 subject areas to further examine and refine FEW-Nexus scientific literacy in order to develop educational resources to support K-12 educators. In informal and non-formal educational programs and science communication efforts, the FEW-Nexus can be utilized as a framework to support science learning, environmental justice, and sustainability. These spaces provide unique opportunities for addressing real-world FEW-Nexus related issues that affect learners and their communities through equitable stakeholder engagement. This work advances our understanding of the educational potential of the FEW-Nexus framework across disciplinary and educational contexts. Strengthening characterization of this conceptual space lays the groundwork for future educational research and practice.
12:20 PT / 1:20 MT / 2:20 CT / 3:20 ET
Characterizing the concerns of new graduate teaching assistants at a large, research-focused university
Georgina Anderson, University of South Carolina-Columbia
Michelle Hardee, University of South Carolina-Columbia
Katherine Ryker, University of South Carolina-Columbia

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Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) often receive little training in pedagogy before leading undergraduate courses and labs at large, research-focused universities. Though most universities offer some teaching-related professional development to GTAs, opportunities vary in quality and accessibility. The caliber of instruction provided to undergraduate students can influence those students' persistence in a chosen major and retention in the college or university. This study characterizes the teaching-related concerns of a large cohort of novice GTAs from STEM and non-STEM graduate programs over the course of their first semester as a GTA. New GTAs completed qualitative and quantitative surveys during their first semester at a large, research-focused university to elucidate their changing teaching-related concerns. A subset of these novice GTAs participated in focus group interviews to generate a rich data set regarding their apprehensions related to teaching. Previous teaching experience at the K12 or college level was correlated with greater confidence in ability to perform teaching-related tasks, while post-graduation plans that do not include teaching were correlated with lower confidence in GTA ability. International students tended to be less confident in their ability to locate resources to support their roles as GTAs, and the confidence gap between these GTAs and peers increased over the course of an intensive two-day TA Orientation. New TAs' greatest teaching-related concerns include maintaining high energy levels in the classroom and balancing teaching-related responsibilities with other professional and personal roles. Areas of least concern included being close in age to undergraduates, handling communications from undergraduates' parents and communicating in English. The conclusions of this study will be used to critically evaluate the professional development opportunities currently offered to GTAs and build new, relevant teaching-related trainings when necessary to meet the diverse needs of GTAs identified in this study.
12:35 PT / 1:35 MT / 2:35 CT / 3:35 ET
The State of Active Learning in the Atmospheric Sciences: Strategies Instructors Use and Directions for Future Research
Zachary Handlos, Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus
Casey Davenport, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Dawn Kopacz, University of Nebraska at Lincoln

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Extensive research within STEM fields has demonstrated that active learning leads to greater educational success for students relative to traditional lecture methods. While studies have explored active learning use across various STEM fields, minimal research has focused specifically on the atmospheric sciences. A baseline knowledge of the use of active learning in this field is vital for determining instructional effectiveness and can identify areas for improvement.The goal of this study is to provide a baseline regarding the state of active learning within the atmospheric sciences, including understanding what active learning strategies are most widely used, their frequency of use, and who is using them. Atmospheric science instructors were invited to participate in an online survey to provide information about their active learning use in the classroom and resources used to learn more about active learning strategies. Survey results indicate that case studies are the most popular high-use active learning strategy across all levels of instruction, though how they are implemented within the classroom is not clear. New atmospheric science instructors, instructors beyond the typical 5 year tenure mark, and female instructors exhibit the highest number of unique active learning strategies. Future work stresses the need for a larger sample size and more direct classroom observation of instructors using active learning.
12:50 PT / 1:50 MT / 2:50 CT / 3:50 ET
Congruency of Teaching Beliefs with Teaching Practices
Christopher Krause, College of the Sequoias

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The relationship between teaching beliefs and teaching practices is understudied; often one or the other is studied independently but seldom are both interrogated simultaneously. Assuming that an instructor's teaching practices are related to their teaching beliefs, a probable assumption, the relationship between them could be more clearly evaluated if they were investigated contemporaneously. Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) proposed a theory of planned behavior in which behavior is mediated by intention, which in turn is the product of attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral controls. Upon this framework, Luft and Roehrig (2007) developed the semi-structured Teacher Beliefs Interview (TBI) protocol. While the name may suggest the protocol only interrogates a teacher's attitudes, their specific guidelines for classifying interview responses, on a continuum from traditional to reform-based, indicate that teaching beliefs are more than attitudinal and include subjective norms and perceived behavior controls. Through a combination of interviewing, classroom observation, and instructor self-reflections, this research sought to better understand the relationship between the teaching practice and teaching beliefs of introductory geographic information systems (GIS) instructors. Six such instructors from two universities participated in this research. Each instructor was interviewed using the TBI before and after the semester. Throughout the semester, their teaching was observed at least three times using either the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) or the Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS). Following each classroom observation, the instructors reflected upon their teaching used a series of guiding question designed to assess the same constructs as the TBI. These data were integrated on a per-instructor basis and subsequently analyzed holistically to identify areas where teaching beliefs and teaching practices appeared to align or where they seemed to be inconsistent. The longitudinal nature of these data allowed for changes in teaching beliefs and behaviors to be identified as well.