Kristin O'Connell

Senior Evaluation/Education Specialist
Science Education Resource Center- Carleton College
koconnell at carleton dot edu
(507) 222-5342

The principles that influence my work and life are modeling and promoting: respect, inclusion and social justice, and evidence-based practices. I see the most meaningful improvements occurring not by simplifying, but by seeking to understand our dynamic, interconnected, and multifaceted selves and world. As an evaluator at SERC, this drives me to work collaboratively to build creative, useful, informative, and inclusive projects where I draw on my lived experience as a geologist, teacher, education researcher, mentor, and evaluator.

Professional Experience

I help to design and implement evaluation of educational projects and conduct research related to professional development, communities of practice and transformation, website design and user experiences, and change with the ultimate goal of improving higher education student outcomes and building evaluation capacity. The project-foci vary from innovative curriculum development projects, professional development programs, student support programs, and websites that increase collaboration and inclusive student-centered teaching and learning.

Recent work includes evaluation and research for Supporting and Advancing Geoscience Education at Two-Year Colleges (SAGE 2YC), Focusing on Cultivating Scientists (FOCUS), Compass: Advancing Earth Education Discovery, and GEodesy Tools for Societal Issues (GETSI).

Areas of expertise includes:

  • Developing and conducting evaluation studies with approaches that align with project goals (such as developmental evaluation, utilization-focused evaluation, process evaluation, or outcomes-based evaluation).
  • Qualitative methods including interviews and focus groups
  • Designing, administering, and analyzing surveys
  • Designing website usability evaluations
  • Co-developing and measuring program theories of change and theories of action

Prior to my current role, I worked at Carleton's TRIO/Student Support Services as the Quantitative Skills Coordinator and as an advisor. I collaborated with students, staff, and faculty to develop research-based strategies and programming to help support TRIO students' success at and beyond Carleton. This work incorporated student support as well as institutional change strategies.

In the past with SERC, I have also been involved with On the Cutting Edge workshops and website design; the Carleton Interdisciplinary Science & Math Initiative (CISMI), including the broadening access cohorts (FOCUS, CSSF, and CSSI) evaluation; Sustainability Improves Student Learning project management; GeoPRISMS project assistance and evaluation, InTeGrate website and assessment manager, inaugural Earth Educators' Rendezvous project manager, and more.


University of Minnesota, Program Evaluation Post-graduate Certificate, 2020.

University of California, Davis, MS 2009, Thesis: Sedimentology, Structural Geology, and Paleomagnetism of the Ghost Rocks Formation; Kodiak Islands, Alaska. My research has focused on large-scale tectonic movements, combining tectonic, structural geologic, sedimentologic, and paleomagnetic data.

Carleton College, Northfield, MN, BA 2004, Thesis: Ages, geochemistry, and field relationships of mafic dikes along the Wrangell Transect, Southeast Alaska.

Selected Publications

Carey, C. C., Farrell, K. J., Hounshell, A. G., & O'Connell, K. (2020). Macrosystems EDDIE teaching modules significantly increase ecology students' proficiency and confidence working with ecosystem models and use of systems thinking. Ecology and Evolution.

Macdonald, R. Heather, Rachel J. Beane, Eric M. D. Baer, Pamela Eddy, Norlene R. Emerson, Jan Hodder, Ellen R. Iverson, John R. McDaris, Kristin O'Connell, and Carol J. Ormand (2019). Accelerating Change: The Power of Faculty Change Agents to Promote Diversity and Inclusive Teaching Practices. Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 67, p. 330-339. DOI:

Iverson, Ellen; Steer, David; Gilbert, Lisa; Kastens, Kim; O'Connell, Kristin; Manduca, Cathryn (2019) Measuring literacy, attitudes, and capacities to solve societal problems. In Interdisciplinary Teaching About Earth and the Environment for a Sustainable Future, Gosselin, Egger, Taber (eds.).

Grawe, Nathan; O'Connell, Kristin (2018) Using the Quantitative Literacy and Reasoning Assessment (QLRA) for Early Detection of Students in Need of Academic Support in Introductory Courses in a Quantitative Discipline: A Case Study, Numeracy, 11(1), p.5

O'Connell, Kristin; Bruckner, M.Z.; Manduca, C.A.; Gosselin, D.C. (2015) Supporting Interdisciplinary Teaching about the Earth with the InTeGrate Website, Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. 6(2), 354-359.

Selected Presentations

Iverson, Ellen, Kristin O'Connell (2019). Make space for new evaluation structure and practices through the backbone of program theory: American Evaluation Association (Minneapolis, MN).

Pratt-Sitaula, B. A., O'Connell, K., Douglas, B. J., Walker, R., Crosby, B. T., Charlevoix, D. J., & Miller, M. M. (2019). Designing Data-rich Undergraduate Teaching Materials That Get Used. In AGU Fall Meeting 2019. AGU.

O'Connell, Kristin; Pratt-Sitaula, Beth; Walker, Becca; Douglas, Bruce; Crosby, Ben; Charlevoix, Donna. (2019) Context matters: Designing data-rich geodesy teaching materials that get used, Earth Educators' Rendezvous, (Nashville, Tennessee).

Bruckner M., Mogk D., Hochella M., Ranville J., O'Connell K., and Sheriff, K., 2019. Nanotechnology in STEM: Incorporating nanotechnology across the geoscience curriculum, Earth Educators' Rendezvous, (Nashville, Tennessee).

O'Connell, Kristin, Iverson, Ellen, Sheriff, Kathryn, 2018. Measuring the Reach and Influence of InTeGrate Materials on Faculty Teaching Practices, Poster presented at 2018 Earth Educators' Rendezvous (Lawrence, KS).

O'Connell, Kristin; Manduca, Cathryn A.; Bruckner, Monica (2018) Building Communities to Support Change in Higher Education: Examples from SERC. Innovating Teaching and Learning in the Food-Energy-Water-Nexus: Toward a National Collaborative for Food, Energy, & Water Systems Education (NC-FEW) Conference. May 22-23, Alexandria, VA.

Iverson, Ellen, R. Heather Macdonald, Eric M. D. Baer, Debra Bragg, Pamela Eddy, Norlene R. Emerson, Jan Hodder, John R. McDaris, Kristin O'Connell, and Carol J. Ormand (2018). Building a Community of Practice Among Geoscience Two-Year College Faculty: A Framework to Support Individual Learning and Collective Change: Geological Society of America annual meeting (Indianapolis, IN). See abstract.

Macdonald, R. Heather, Eric M. D. Baer, Rachel J. Beane, Debra Bragg, Norlene R. Emerson, Jan Hodder, Ellen Iverson, John R. McDaris, Kristin O'Connell, and Carol J. Ormand (2018). Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Engaging SAGE 2YC Faculty to Transform Geoscience in Two-Year Colleges: Geological Society of America annual meeting (Indianapolis, IN). See abstract

Macdonald, R. Heather, Eric M. D. Baer, Debra Bragg, Pamela Eddy, Norlene R. Emerson, Jan Hodder, Ellen Iverson, John R. McDaris, Kristin O'Connell, and Carol J. Ormand (2018). Catalyzing Inclusive Education Practices in Two-Year College Geoscience Programs and Departments: SAGE 2YC and Faculty Change Agents: American Geophysical Union annual fall meeting (Washington, DC).

Ormand, Carol J., R. Heather Macdonald, Eric M. D. Baer, Rachel J. Beane, Jan Hodder, John R. McDaris, and Kristin O'Connell (2018). Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: SAGE 2YC Resources for the Geoscience Community (Acrobat (PDF) 6.8MB Nov9 18): Geological Society of America annual meeting (Indianapolis, IN). See abstract.

O'Connell, Kristin; Eblen-Zayas, Melissa (2017) Making Connections: How a Small Learning and Teaching Center Has a Big Impact. NSEC National Conference. (Poster).

Williams, Trey; Cashin, Melanie; O'Connell, Kristin (2016) Acknowledging Class in the Classroom. Learning and Teaching Center, Carleton College

O'Connell, Kristin., Gosselin, D., Bruckner, M., Manduca, C., (2015) Supporting Interdisciplinary Teaching about the Earth for a Sustainable Future with the InTeGrate Website (Acrobat (PDF) 9.3MB Nov3 15), Earth Educators' Rendezvous, Boulder, CO (Abstract)

O'Connell, Kristin (2014) Supporting interdisciplinary teaching about the Earth with the InTeGrate website, Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences Annual Meeting, New York, NY.

O'Connell, Kristin, Monica Z. Bruckner, Susan M. Buhr, David C. Gosselin, Karin B. Kirk, Krista Larsen, Tamara Shapiro Ledley, Cathryn A. Manduca, David W. Mogk, and Katryn Wiese (2012) Sustainability and Climate Change Teaching Resources, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 44, No. 7, p. 371 (Abstract)

(Presented for Iverson) Iverson, E.,McMartin, F., Morgan, G., Morrill, J., Larsen, K. (2012) Evaluating Faculty and Student Use of Digital Resources for Teaching and Learning. Evaluation 2012: American Evaluation Association Annual Meeting. Minneapolis, MN