Science Education and Research Associate
Download my curriculum vitae (Acrobat (PDF) 199kB Jan27 20)
What I Do
My work at SERC has several components, each of which supports SERC's overall mission: improving education in the geosciences and beyond, particularly at the college and university level. These components are:
- Conducting research on learning in the undergraduate science classroom;
- Faculty professional development;
- Developing curricular materials that incorporate what we know from research on learning; and
- Evaluating geoscience education research projects.
Research on Learning
Since 2008, I've been involved in research on learning in the geosciences. My most recent focus in this realm is on proven strategies for improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM. I hope you will read and share our open access article about Making Departments Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive, published in the Journal of Geoscience Education in 2021.
My research on learning began with a focus on spatial thinking. This led to some exciting opportunities, including leading a workshop on Supporting Spatial Thinking at the 2018 Earth Educators' Rendezvous; co-leading a workshop with Eric Riggs on Spatial Reasoning in the Geosciences at the 2016 Earth Educators' Rendezvous; co-convening the 2013 Hedberg Conference on 3D Structural Geologic Interpretation; and co-convening the 2012 On the Cutting Edge Spatial Thinking Journal Club. In 2014, our article on Evaluating Geoscience Students' Spatial Thinking Skills in a Multi-Institutional Classroom Study was the Journal of Geoscience Education's paper of the year.
The Geoscience Education Transdisciplinary Spatial Learning Network is a collaboration of cognitive psychologists, education researchers, and geoscience educators working to develop educational tools that can help students, across classroom and field settings, to better understand and build upon historically difficult geoscience concepts. We expect that this research will improve retention and learning in geosciences, and will also inform efforts to improve learning in the other Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) domains that require spatial thinking.
I am the lead PI on the Spatial Thinking Workbook project (with co-PIs Basil Tikoff and Tim Shipley). Working with geoscience faculty members and a team of cognitive scientists, we have developed a suite of curricular materials to improve spatial thinking skills in upper-level undergraduate geoscience courses.SILC: the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center×
Basil, Tim and I are also involved in research through SILC (the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center). For this project, we are investigating the breadth of spatial thinking skills and characterizing their development in individuals ranging from novices to experts. This has led to developing two instruments for assessing geoscience students' spatial thinking skills: the Geologic Block Cross-sectioning Test and the Crystal Slicing Test. Email me if you are interested in using either of these instruments to assess your students' spatial skills.
Faculty Professional Development
The work I do in faculty professional development includes managing faculty PD projects; co-convening and co-leading workshops; and building websites to support faculty in adopting evidence-based practices in teaching.
SAGE 2YC: Supporting and Advancing Geoscience Education in Two-Year Colleges laid the groundwork for the SAGE 2YC: Faculty as Change Agents project. Two-year colleges (2YCs) play crucial roles in meeting the nation's geoscience and STEM workforce needs and in increasing public scientific literacy. 2YCs enroll over 45% of all U.S. undergraduates and serve a large number of women, minority, and first-generation college students. In addition, the 2YC teaching environment is one of the most challenging as community colleges are primarily open-access intuitions that serve an extremely diverse student body; teaching loads are heavy; there is an increasing use of adjunct faculty; and there is limited support for participation in professional development activities, widely recognized as the source for many critical improvements for improving student learning. The SAGE 2YC project seeks to make an impact in this important area by building a national network of self-sustaining local communities of 2YC geoscience faculty and administrators who use evidence-based strategies to improve all students' academic success, broaden participation, and facilitate students' professional pathways into the STEM workforce. I am the project manager.
I was a co-PI on the Building Strong Geoscience Departments project. My responsibilities included developing our online collections of resources and facilitating the associated workshops.
I started working for SERC in the fall of 2005. I had been a visiting assistant professor at a couple of small liberal arts colleges for the previous five years, so I was well-prepared for my first assignment: developing websites of resources for Early Career Faculty in the Geosciences and for graduate students and postdocs Preparing for an Academic Career in the Geosciences. Other websites I've developed for this project include the Role of Metacognition in Learning, Developing Student Understanding of Complex Systems in the Geosciences, Teaching About Rates and Time, and Spatial Thinking in the Geosciences. I also help facilitate the associated Cutting Edge workshops. In particular, I have supported the On the Cutting Edge annual workshops for Early Career Faculty in the Geosciences and for graduate students and postdocs Preparing for an Academic Career in the Geosciences about a half-dozen times each. I have also helped facilitate several of the topical workshops and online journal clubs, and have co-convened some of the topical workshops.
I have served as a consultant for several curriculum development projects. I enjoy helping instructors design effective and engaging curricular materials.
The IGUaNA project team is in the process of developing teaching materials for introductory-level undergraduate geophysics courses. These materials will feature the applications of geophysical techniques to societally-relevant, real-world problems. The project team brings deep expertise in geophysics content and pedagogy to the development of the project materials. Each of the course modules will be peer-reviewed, tested in undergraduate classrooms, revised, and then shared via the project website.
The IODP School of Rock moved online in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A cohort of K-12 teachers from across the US learned about the 2050 Framework for Scientific Ocean Drilling, which will guide the next 30 years of ocean drilling research. The teachers then developed curricular materials for their students based on cutting edge scientific questions and data collected by ocean drilling expeditions.
WILSIM-GC is an interactive computer simulation designed to help undergraduate students understand and visualize the geologic processes that interacted to form the Grand Canyon over the past 10 million years. I built the project website and helped develop the inquiry-based curricular materials that accompany the model.
Neotoma is a Paleoecology Database. I organized and facilitated a workshop to develop teaching activities that use the database to understand the effects of climate change on plant and animal distributions.
Evaluating Geoscience Education Research
E-STEM reimagines the traditional geology field course as a professional development experience to address the emergence of new "environmental" geoscience tracks at many 4YCUs. Existing STEM retention and diversity programs have recognized access to field and professional experiences as critical to helping students identify as scientists, form networks, and gain important skills necessary for employment in a variety of public and private sectors. The goal of this project is to engage a diverse cohort of Environmental-STEM (ESTEM) track undergraduates at 4-year colleges and universities (4YCUs) and community colleges (2YCs) in hands-on, career-applicable experiences that will launch students into the geoscience workforce. My role is to oversee the collection and analysis of the data that will allow us to measure the success of the project in achieving these goals.
Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, Northfield, MN, 2005-present
Visiting Assistant Professor, Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH, 2002-2005
Visiting Assistant Professor, St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI, 2000-2002
Graduate Assistant, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1992-2000
Adjunct Instructor, Carleton College, Northfield, MN, 1997
Ph. D. in Structural Geology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 2000
- Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, Dept. of Geology & Geophysics
B. A. in Mathematics, Carleton College, Northfield, MN, 1989
- Graduated Cum Laude; Member, Sigma Xi (Scientific Honor Society)
Publications and Presentations
- Ormand, Carol J., R. Heather Macdonald, Janet Hodder, Debra D. Bragg, Eric M. D. Baer, and Pamela L. Eddy. Making Departments Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive: Engaging colleagues in departmental transformation through discussion groups committed to action (open access). Journal of Geoscience Education.
- Cooper, Sharon K., Carol Cotterill, Don Haas, Lisa D. White, Kira Homola, Adriane Renee Lam, Jonathan C. Lewis, Richard D. Norris, Suzanne OConnell, Carol J. Ormand, Mitchell D. Schulte, Kristen K. St. John, and Randi Wold-Brennon (2021). The IODP IMPACT workshop series: envisioning the future for communicating scientific ocean drilling: American Geophysical Union annual fall meeting (New Orleans, LA).
- Guertin, Laura, Kristie Bradford, Hillary Goodner, Karen Helgers, Beth A. Johnson, Megan Jones, Kaatje Kraft, Karen Layou, Carol J. Ormand, Waverly Ray, Daina Hardisty, and Elizabeth Nagy (2021). Report on Unlearning Racism in Geoscience from the 2YC URGE Pod: Earth Educators' Rendezvous (Online).
- Guertin, Laura, Carol J. Ormand, Beth A. Johnson, Elizabeth Nagy, Karen Helgers, Katrien J. van der Hoeven Kraft, and Karen M. Layou (2021). Attracting, Supporting, and Preparing BIPOC Students for Early Success in Geoscience: Policies, Curricular Materials, and Other Resources from the 2YC URGE Pod: Geological Society of America (Portland, OR). Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol 53, No. 6, doi: 10.1130/abs/2021AM-364366
- Guertin, Laura, Kaatje van der Hoeven Kraft, Elizabeth Ann Nagy-Shadman, Carol J. Ormand, Beth A. Johnson, and Karen Layou (2021). Unlearning Racism in Geoscience at 2YCs: Curricular Resources, Policies, and More from the 2YC URGE Pod: American Geophysical Union annual fall meeting (New Orleans, LA).
- Kruse, Sarah, Carol J. Ormand, Andrew D. Parsekian, Lee Slater, Danielle F. Sumy, and John Taber (2021). Using Geophysics to Address Societally-Relevant, Urban and Environmental Questions in Introductory-Level Geoscience Courses: GAGE/SAGE (UNAVCO/IRIS) workshop (Online).
- Ormand, Carol J., Sarah Kruse, Andrew D. Parsekian, Lee Slater, Danielle F. Sumy, and John Taber (2021). Making Geoscience Relevant: Using Geophysics to Address Societally-Relevant, Urban and Environmental Questions in Introductory-level Geoscience Courses: Geological Society of America (Portland, OR). Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol 53, No. 6, doi: 10.1130/abs/2021AM-369508
- Parsekian, AD, H. Houlton, S. Kruse, C. Ormand, L. Slater, D. Sumy, J. Taber (2021). Implementing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Best Practices to Design Introductory Undergraduate Modules for Increasing Participation from Students of All Backgrounds into Geophysics. Seismological Society of America, April 21 2021 (Online).
In June of 2013, 70 participants met in Reno to discuss these and related issues, and to explore how spatial cognitive science can help us better understand and develop geologic interpretation skills, software tools, and education strategies. Industry interpreters and trainers, academic structural geologists, software developers, and cognitive scientists brought complementary perspectives to three days of presentations, posters, and discussions, plus a field day with interactive interpretation modules. This Hedberg conference provided new shared insights to the interpretation process, ideas for improving skill development, and abundant opportunities for further collaboration.
In 2016 AAPG will publish a special volume based on the Hedberg conference, with contributions from 20 conference participants and other co-authors. The volume provides a uniquely broad range of perspectives on 3D geologic interpretation with sections that focus on (1) spatial thinking, geologic cognition, and visualization, (2) subsurface geologic interpretation, (3) fault systems in 3D and 4D, and (4) geologic interpretation training. In addition to summarizing and expanding on material presented during the Hedberg, the volume presents results from research conducted at the conference.
Some key findings from the conference have significance for improving industry interpretation practices, and training new interpreters. Subsurface and outcrop interpretation present different but related challenges for spatial thinking, and provide insights to different types of cognitive abilities. Thus the transition from academic experience for most industry new hires requires a shift in 3D geologic thinking. Novices and experts use different skills and strategies, and these differences should be reflected in training strategies. Interpretation methods, including software, can be improved to both ease cognitive challenges and improve interpretation quality.
2007 and prior