JoAnn Thissen

Nassau Community College

JoAnn Thissen is a SAGE 2YC local workshop leader and an instructor at Nassau Community College. She co-convened the 2015 workshop Motivating and Improving Learning: Metacognition, Motivation, and the Affective Domain and the 2014 workshop Supporting Student Success in the Geosciences at 2-Year Colleges at Nassau Community College. In her essay "Accepting the Challenge" she describes the challenge of developing and marketing the geoscience program at Nassau Community College and the terrific results she has gotten. In her essay "Getting Them to Love Rocks" she describes building her field geology course.

Thissen contributed three activities to the Geo2YC collection. The first, "Geologic Time Resorts" is a capstone project for a historical geology course where students are assigned a geologic time period and produce an ecotourism marketing brochure. Her "Beach Profiling, Observing and Documenting a Changing Environment, Point Lookout, NY" activity is for sedimentology and coastal geomorphology courses. In her "Digging for Fossils" lab activity, students act as paleontologists at a fossil-rich location.


Thissen teaches Physical Geology (lecture/lab), Historical Geology (lecture/lab), Beaches and Coasts (lecture), and Field Geology (lecture/lab).

Professional Interests

Thissen's educational interests focus on developing and using active, hands-on learning experiences. Her students are semi-urban and rarely go outside of their local environment, and so she uses local and real examples to connect students to the course content, as exemplified by her Beaches and Coasts class and her Field Geology course. Thissen is a geologic oceanographer with a specialization in estuarine and coastal environments. She also specializes in coastal geomorphology. In her research she collected and analyzed grab samples and cores as well as using wide-swath bathymetry. Each year she volunteers for Nassau Community Colleges's Math Department's Y2M day (Say Yes to Mathematics). She is a professional photographer and uses her photos in her lessons.


Nassau Community College the largest single-campus two-year college in New York, and is part of the SUNY system. It serves Long Island, New York and is located in Garden City. Nassau Community College serves over 33,000 students - 20% of whom are African American or Black and 17% of whom are Latino or Hispanic. Five percent of the students receive services through the office of disability services.