Understanding Signals in the Soil: Data-centered learning in critical zone science

Thursday, Friday 8:30am-11:30am SERC Building - 214


Daniel Hirmas, Texas Tech University
Pamela Sullivan, Oregon State University
Hoori Ajami, University of California-Riverside
Karla Jarecke, University of Colorado at Boulder
Matthew Amato, University of California-Riverside

This workshop targets Earth science undergraduate-student educators (graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, lecturers, and faculty) seeking to employ data-centered learning techniques in their courses. Participants will learn and practice the development of backward design of data-centered lesson plans and assignments, methods for data harvesting, teaching data analyses, and assessment of data-centered learning outcomes. Educators will come away from this "hands-on" workshop with a set of practical evidence-based, data-driven approaches to explore the Earth system with students. This workshop has a limited number of $400 stipends available to participants to help offset costs of attending the Rendezvous. Preference will be given to early career attendees (e.g., graduate students, postdocs, lecturers, and pre-tenure faculty) with financial need, and especially those who are or will be responsible for undergraduate courses. To apply for a stipend, please complete the stipend application form by April 29. All stipends will be disbursed after the Rendezvous.


Workshop Program »

Target Audience

This workshop is designed for undergraduate student educators seeking to employ data-centered learning techniques in their courses although it is expected that secondary school educators and those focused on teaching graduate-level courses will also benefit from this workshop.


  • Understand basic concepts about physical, chemical and morphological characteristics of soils.
  • Learn approaches for teaching students how to investigate likely causes of soil variation.
  • Design activities to help students investigate, plot, and interpret observational data and develop process-based hypotheses about the critical zone.
  • Understand and apply the concepts of backward design.


Morning 1 will include an introduction to backward design, as well as soil morphological, physical, and chemical characteristics. Participants will engage in collaborative activities designed to make them familiar with key concepts. During each morning, time will be given to group activities designed to hone initial ideas for a data-centered activity and participants will have an opportunity to incorporate group feedback.

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