Geoscience Learning Ecosystems

Round Table Discussion


Susan Meabh Kelly, Connecticut State Department of Education

A review of education research literature, as well as agency-funded award and professional meeting abstracts, suggests that historically geoscientists, education researchers, and outreach specialists have largely oriented their K-12 efforts towards activities that are intended to address gaps in teachers' geoscience content and pedagogical knowledge. Framed as pathways to improve K-12 students' learning and strengthen the STEM workforce "pipeline", outcomes of these activities have been popularly assessed via established or modified measures of teachers' pre- and post-activity self-efficacy.

While past activities have reflected agencies' call to broaden the STEM workforce, an orientation towards justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion has been more recently amplified across the geoscience ecosystem. Within professional geoscience organizations, agencies, and post-secondary communities, the relatively greater visibility and clarity of this orientation is apparent in opportunities (NSF; 2020; NSF, 2021), meeting session themes (AGU, 2019; GSA, 2020), and publications (Apple, et al., 2014; Callahan et al., 2017; Garcia et al., 2020; Kotowski & Wright, 2020; Palmer, et al. (2009); Sherman-Morris, et al., 2016). Similarly, the K-12 science education community has shifted beyond rhetoric of "science for all" to explore, embrace, and elevate research-informed practices that recognize and advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in science classrooms and communities (Kelly & Bell, 2021; NSTA, 2021; NRC, 2012).

Research and practice suggests inclusion can be advanced through orienting towards students' interests and identities. As resources and insights from multiple fields are identified and leveraged in order to inform the development of inclusive geoscience activities, the potential contributions of practicing geoscience teachers remain under-recognized and under-examined. This round table is dedicated to envisioning a professionally inclusive geoscience learning ecosystem though which scientists, education researchers, and K-12 teachers may bridge and blur professional boundaries (Kelly & Thompson, 2018) in order to advance change.