Incorporate Expert Ways of Thinking about Earth
What does it mean to be an expert thinker?
Experts' knowledge is organized around core concepts that provide structure to a vast amount of content (1). That structure makes knowledge easy to retrieve and build upon. Experts tend to have a strong capacity for systems thinking and are interdisciplinary problem solvers; expert geoscience thinkers organize their knowledge spatially, temporally, and geographically (2) - these are the hallmarks specific to geoscientific thinking.
How do we help students develop these expert thinking skills?
Expert thinking skills are ingrained for most instructors - they are experts - and as such, it is easy to forget that students are novices. It is not sufficient to simply use expert strategies in your teaching (3). Instead, the strategies need to be explicitly called out and described in connection with content. Students need to gain experience using expert thinking skills and strategies in order to become familiar with them. Courses, from introductory to advanced, are the ideal venue for developing expert thinking skills.
Read more about:
- Teaching geoscientific thinking to a variety of student audiences.
- Geoscience habits of mind
- Undergraduate Research as Teaching Practice and teaching through Problem-based Learning from On the Cutting Edge
Learn About Expert Thinking
No matter what your field, developing your own understanding of what constitutes expert thinking in your own discipline can help you teach it better. Developing an understanding of the perspectives of your colleagues in other disciplines, including their expert thinking strategies, can help foster a culture of collaboration and facilitate interdisciplinary research and teaching.
Learn more about:
- Systems thinking
- Interdisciplinary teaching
- Geoscientific thinking, including
- the methods of investigation used by geoscientists and ways to teach them
- the habits of mind of geoscientists and how to integrate them into your teaching
- the nature of geoscience
- Integrating Research and Education, which includes tips from the perspective of an educator or a researcher
- Research on Learning in the Geosciences, which discusses how students learn about the Earth.
- Make geoscientific thinking explicit for your students whenever and wherever possible.
- Interdisciplinary Approaches to Teaching, from Pedagogy in Action, encourages an atmosphere of collaboration. It also improves students' teamwork and problem-solving skills while reinforcing geoscientific habits of mind.
- Systems Thinking can help students make connections between different disciplines and leads to greater understanding of complex ideas.
- Using the Local Environment is an easy and powerful way to introduce students to fieldwork, one of the pillars of geoscience.
- The Teaching with Current Research and Data Site Guide offers a gateway to several projects aimed at helping instructors teach with real data and models, many of which include example teaching activities.
- The Quantitative Skills, Thinking, and Reasoning Site Guide offers collections of example teaching activities and resources related to improving quantitative skills and literacy from several projects.
- The Earth Exploration Toolbook uses datasets and analysis tools to teach students about the Earth system.
- The Teaching with Data pages from Pedagogy in Action provide tips and ideas for integrating teaching with data into your course. While the pages are focused at the introductory geoscience level, the materials are applicable to a range of disciplines.
- Explore the collection of activities for teaching geoscientific thinking submitted by participants of the the 2012 Teaching the Methods of Geoscience workshop.
- On the Cutting Edge hosts collections of activities for:
- How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school
J. Bransford, A.L. Brown, R.R. Cocking 1999 National Academy Press Washington, D.C.
- Geoscience and geoscientists: Uniquely equipped to study Earth
C. A. Manduca, K. A. Kastens 2012 GSA Special Paper 486
- Research in science education: The expert-novice continuum
H.L. Petcovic 2007 Journal of Geoscience Education v. 5, no. 4, p. 333-339