What is Geoscientific Thinking?
We use the phrase geoscientific thinking to encompass the ideas that describe what makes geoscience unique as a discipline yet still clearly part of science as a whole, including:
- The methods of investigation used by geoscientists, which rely on descriptive studies and modeling over experimental techniques;
- The habits of mind developed by geoscientists, which describe skills and approaches intrinsic to problem solving in the geosciences, such as spatial and temporal reasoning;
- The nature of geoscience, which refers to the theory of knowledge and the values and beliefs behind geoscience: in other words, its philosophical underpinnings.
There is overlap between these ideas, and there are also different ways to convey and describe them. For example:
- In An Outsider Looks at Geoscience: Methods, Content, Pedagogy, and Partnerships, George "Pinky" Nelson, former director of AAAS's Project 2061, discusses the role of K-12 science standards in promoting and teaching the methods and processes of science, and where geoscience fits in (or hasn't fit in).
- Carol Cleland, a philosopher of science, focuses on the nature of geoscience, debunking the myth that descriptive sciences aren't falsifiable in Common Cause Explanation and the Search for the "Smoking Gun".
- Kip Ault, a professor in teacher education, focuses on the importance of time as a unifying concept for understanding the nature of geoscience in Teaching the Geosciences as a Subversive Activity: It's About Time.
- Cathy Manduca and Kim Kastens, both geoscientists who became more involved in geoscience education and cognition, describe a common set of perspectives, approaches, and values that characterizes the study of geosciences in Geoscience and Geoscientists: Uniquely equipped to study the Earth .