Initial Publication Date: November 22, 2013

National Association of Geoscience Teachers

1200 members
Education staff lead: Cathy Manduca,


The mission of NAGT is:

  • To foster improvements in the teaching and learning about earth as a system at all levels of formal and informal instruction
  • To emphasize the relevance and cultural significance of geoscience to all people
  • To foster and disseminate knowledge of and research in geoscience education
  • To promote professional growth of our members.

Improving undergraduate education is an integral part of our mission that we address in all aspects of our program. Being part of a community of geoscience educators focused on improving learning about the Earth K to gray is a central member benefit. We support this community and its mission with our publications, our advocacy efforts, our professional development programming and our website.

NAGT was founded in 1939 to create a professional community of geoscience educators who would learn from one another by exchanging ideas and discussing mutual problems. Through the combination of a national organization, regional sections, topical divisions, publications, awards, activities at professional society meeting (GSA and AGU), professional development programming, and the organization's website, NAGT has nurtured and sustained this community for 75 years. As a result, geoscience educators learn from one another, ideas flow across the community with ease, and members of the community make use of ideas from others. 

While many things have contributed to the effectiveness of this community, it has grown in its reach in the past 20 years (Tewksbury et al, 2013) in part through the activities of the On the Cutting Edge program and the development of the SERC website. We estimate that 1/4 of faculty participate actively in this community (though not all are members of NAGT) and 50% of faculty make use of the website.

In addition, NAGT provides the following: 

  • Journal of Geoscience Education, JGE, since 1951. Research journal on geoscience teaching and learning. Fundamental to the advancement of geoscience education research as an important intellectual field central to the advancement of the discipline.
  • In the Trenches, ITT. ITT features articles about best teaching practices, classroom ready resources, using research data in classrooms, assessment strategies, book reviews, software and data set descriptions, and more.
  • Divisions that bring together specialized communities around common interests. Active divisions include: Teacher Education, Geo 2YC,and Geoscience Education Research.
  • NAGT News communicates timely action oriented items to the community.
  • Sponsored geoscience education sessions and workshops at GSA and AGU
  • Easy access, searchable teaching resources
  • Educational advocacy through position statements, listserves, working closely with associated societies.
  • Awards and scholarships recognizing and promoting excellence in geoscience education across all levels.

Premier Contribution to Faculty Development


On the Cutting Edge Professional Development Program

The NAGT On the Cutting Edge project helps geoscience faculty stay up-to-date with both geoscience research and teaching methods. The workshop series and website combine to provide professional development opportunities, resources, and opportunities for faculty to interact on-line and in person with colleagues around the world who are focused on improving their teaching. An integral aspect of the project is development of an expanding community of geoscience educators with a strong and diverse leadership.

Cutting Edge developed models for both face-to-face and virtual workshops ranging from one to six days in length and offered 56 workshops between 2002 and 2009. 1751 faculty, post-docs, and graduate students participated in one or more workshops. More than 20% of the participants came to two or more workshops for a total of 2246 workshop participant-seats. Approximately 25% of the geoscience faculty in the U.S. and more than half the departments in the United States have participated. The reach of the workshops was in proportion to the different types of departments, with the exception of two-year colleges which were underrepresented. Cutting Edge workshop participants included a higher percentage of women and members of underrepresented groups than in the overall population of U.S. geoscience faculty. End-of-workshop evaluations indicate a high level of participant satisfaction with a median of 9.1 on a 10-point scale.

The Cutting Edge online collection of teaching activities and other resources supported those who attended the workshops, provided a venue for sharing teaching resources, and extended the reach of Cutting Edge to those who had not attended a workshop. The web collection included over 4000 pages, 33 topical collections, and more than 1200 community-contributed teaching activities at the completion of this project. In 2008, more than half a million users visited the website and approximately 12,000 visited 10 or more pages in a single session. Approximately 25% of users are geoscience faculty with the remaining 75% comprised of faculty from other disciplines, K-12 teachers from geoscience and other disciplines, undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, and others. Approximately 30% of U.S. geoscience faculty use the website to find teaching ideas and materials, to compare their own teaching to that of others, to learn about teaching methods or geoscience topics, and to obtain information about career planning. Users report that the website increases their confidence in trying new teaching methods. We estimate that only 35% of geoscience faculty using the website have attended a workshop. The website received a 2009 Geoscience Information Society award for best educational website and is also a recipient of the AAAS Science Prize for Online Research in Education (SPORE).


  • Manduca, Cathryn A., David W. Mogk, Barbara Tewksbury, R. Heather Macdonald, Sean P. Fox, Ellen R. Iverson, Karin Kirk, John McDaris, Carol Ormand, and Monica Bruckner (2010). SPORE: Science Prize for Online Resources in Education: On the Cutting Edge: Teaching Help For Geoscience Faculty: Science, v. 327, no. 5969, pp. 1095-1096.
  • Manduca, Cathryn A. (2011). Improving undergraduate geoscience education - A Community Endeavor: GSA Today, v. 21, n. 9, p. 12-14.
  • Tewksbury, Barbara, Cathryn A. Manduca, David W. Mogk, R. Heather Macdonald, Geoscience Education for the Anthropocene: Geological Society of America Special Papers, 2013, 501, p. 189-201.


Additional Undergraduate Education Activities of NAGT

  • Teach the Earth Portal for Geoscience Educators provides integrated access to resources for effective teaching about the Earth for Geoscience Educators drawn from 72 projects.