Integrate > Teaching for Sustainability > Incorporate Expert Ways of Thinking About Earth > Teach Geoscientific Thinking > What is Geoscientific Thinking?

What is Geoscientific Thinking?

This page draws from presentations and discussion at the 2012 Teaching the Methods of Geoscience Workshop.

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: