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NSF/Johnson Foundation Workshop: Bringing Research on Learning to the Geosciences

July 8-10, 2002

Workshop Overview

Workshop Report (Acrobat (PDF) 879kB Mar9 04)
Results in Poster Format (Acrobat (PDF) 2.1MB Jan29 04)

A two-day workshop brought together twenty leaders from geoscience education, learning science, and the application of learning science to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines to initiate the development of a community engaged in applying learning science to the geosciences. The goals of the workshop were to:

  • share information regarding the state of the art in these communities
  • draw on complementary expertise to define the compelling research issues on learning in the geosciences
  • discuss existing avenues that might be exploited to disseminate and bring into use existing research on learning
  • initiate planning of broad-based coordinated activities.

Discussion focused on six areas where learning scientists and geoscientists have complementary interests and expertise: development of geoscience learning goals; understanding vast and minute spatial and temporal scales; teaching and learning about complex systems; representation and visualization of multidimensional data; interaction of observation, theory, modeling, and experiment in geoscience methodology; and application of pedagogical models to teaching in the geosciences. Participants addressed four questions with regard to each of these topics:

  1. What does classroom experience suggest are the critical barriers to learning?
  2. What existing research on learning, including that from other STEM disciplines, is applicable to these issues?
  3. What new work is needed?
  4. What are critical next steps?

Workshop Outcomes

The primary outcomes of the meeting are presented in the Workshop Report (Acrobat (PDF) 879kB Mar9 04). These include

  • a research plan identifying key areas of high potential for collaboration between cogntive science, education and geoscience
  • recommendations for disseminating research on learning to geoscience educators and for building the capacity for research on learning in the geosciences.

This workshop was envisioned as the first step in a series of activities to accelerate the integration of research on learning into undergraduate geoscience education and produce the strong grounding in learning science research throughout the geoscience community that is desirable for all faculty.