Heather Petcovic

Geosciences and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education

Western Michigan University

Dr. Heather Petcovic
Professor, Geoscience Education
Chair, Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences 
Western Michigan University 

I hold a joint appointment between the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, where I currently serve as department chair, and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education at Western Michigan University. My research broadly focuses on field-based geoscience education and practice. I use qualitative and mixed methods of research to understand the role of field experience in the transition from undergraduate student to expert geoscientist. Specific research projects have studied the roles of knowledge, spatial thinking, and movement patterns in novice to expert geologic mapping, and how student conceptions of complex biogeochemical systems change in a field-based undergraduate course. More recently I have worked on the changing role of fieldwork in geoscience workforce preparation, and the role of visuospatial skills in fieldwork and sketching. I have been active in the preparation and professional development of K-12 teachers through teaching science content courses and consulting on several teacher development initiatives. I am a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Geoscience Education.

Workshop Leader, Webinar Participant, Website Contributor

Website Content Contributions

Activity (1)

The History of the Earth: Classroom Activity part of Teacher Preparation:Resource Collections:Activities
Students use events in an older adult's life to develop a timeline, which is then related to a scaled model of major events in the earth's history and the development of the geologic timescale.

Course (1)

Western Michigan University: Earth Science for Elementary Educators II part of Teacher Preparation:Resource Collections:Courses
This laboratory-based course is specifically designed for prospective elementary teachers and covers physical/historical geology content with reference to state elementary (K-8) benchmarks. The objectives of the ...

Conference Presentations (11)

Lost in the aquifer: Student spatial and conceptual struggles in hydrogeology part of Earth Educators Rendezvous:Rendezvous 2024:Program:Oral Sessions:Monday Oral Session A
Training undergraduate students in hydrogeology is challenging as students grapple with complex content in a three-dimensional, unobservable, subsurface space. In a prior study with novice to expert ...

Other Contributions (10)

Pedagogies and Practices for Boosting Spatial Understanding of Fluid Earth Processes part of Earth Educators Rendezvous:Rendezvous 2024:Program:Afternoon Mini-Workshops
Thinking and learning about fluid-Earth processes can be uniquely challenging for students. This workshop targets instructors of fluid-Earth science courses including meteorology, oceanography, hydrology, ...


Workshop Leader

Workshop Participant (25 workshops)

Webinar Participant