A part of the SERC Teacher Professional Development Program Collection

Page prepared for SERC by Heather Rissler.

B.S. Program in Geology and Earth Science Education at Michigan TechJackie Huntoon

Program URL: https://www.mtu.edu/geo/undergraduate/geology/
Program Type:
B.S. in Geology and Earth Science Education

Jackie Huntoon, Ph.D.

Professor, Geology; Dean of the Graduate School. (Contact Info)
Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences at Michigan Tech

Program Summary

The B.S. in Geology and Earth Science Education is rich in science content and provides students with the knowledge and skills that are necessary to become credentialed Earth Science teachers. Students completing this blended program are qualified to teach Earth Science at the K-12 level or attend graduate school in the Geosciences. This type of program affords students flexibility in their future career choices and supports the development of K-12 Earth Science teachers that have a rigorous science content background.

What was the impetus for the program?

"Faculty in the Department of Geological Engineering and Sciences designed the accredited program to address the nation's continuing need for teachers that are trained specifically in Earth Science. There is currently a shortage of Earth Science teachers and the situation is likely to become worse in the future. Surveys conducted by the National Science Teachers Association indicate that in 1998 approximately 4% of all teachers were Earth Science teachers. The Department of Education predicts that over a million new teachers will be needed to fill positions in all disciplines within the next ten years. This translates to a need for over 40,000 new Earth Science teachers within ten years. Projected needs for Earth Science teachers are compounded by the fact that a large percentage of currently practicing Earth Science teachers are actually teaching outside their primary content area. Producing more teachers with strong Earth Science backgrounds can only improve K-12 Earth Science education." (from the Geology and Earth Science Education webpage).

How is the program structured?

The program is designed so that students obtain a B.S. in Geology with emphasis in Earth Science Education and are prepared to either go into teaching or to graduate school in the geosciences. The program is very rigorous and similar to the B.S in Geology, providing a strong science content base. This model ensures that teachers coming out of the program are well prepared in the Earth Science content area. Students who enter the program confer with Michigan Tech's Department of Education to develop a schedule that will allow them to meet Michigan State requirements for receiving teaching credentials.

Who is involved?

Faculty from a variety of departments participate in this program as students are required to take courses from multiple science disciplines including biology, physics, mathematics, chemistry, and geology. Education faculty teach additional courses related to science teaching at the secondary level.

Students who are interested in a career in teaching but wish to obtain a strong science content background. Students take a number of courses from across the sciences, with major emphasis in Geology and Earth Science. Students also take approximately 33 credit hours of Education courses, which culminate with a semester-long student teaching assignment.

How is the program evaluated?

The program is accredited by the State of Michigan, and undergoes regular evaluation. As required by the state, students graduating from the program are given a provisional certification and then take the state test to fulfill full certification.

Hints for starting a program like this:

Dr. Jackie Huntoon (personal communication)
  • Know your state's requirements for certification in the Earth Sciences
  • Work closely with the Department of Education at your institution and collaborate with other science departments
  • Design the curriculum so that it meets the requirements for teacher preparation and certification in your state
  • Incorporate rigorous science content combined with training in pedagogy to produce highly sought after teachers

References and Notes:

  • Sample Schedule for students in the B.S. Geology and Earth Science Education program.
  • Before It's Too Late:A Report to the Nation from The National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century: This document highlights the need for teachers with enriched content background.