2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


MESSINA, Paula, Geology, San Jose State University, One Washington Square, San Jose, CA 95192-0102, pmessina@geosun.sjsu.edu

Pre- and in-service teachers nationwide face increasing qualification and credentialing demands. This may be particularly true for secondary (9-12) science teachers and multiple subject (K-8) faculty.

Traditional B.S. programs in the “P.C.B.s” (Physics, Chemistry, Biology) rarely require geoscience courses, yet those candidates wishing to pursue teaching as a career may need to demonstrate Earth science content competency. Even more daunting is the plight of those in the K-8 arena: many current and prospective teachers have had to minimize science electives in lieu of increasing education requirements.

National, state, and local teaching standards call for escalating emphases on the four geoscience sub-disciplines: geology, meteorology, oceanography, and space science. How can current and future teachers establish geoscience content and pedagogy competency when undergraduate curricula often substitute other (albeit valuable) requirements? How can current and future K-12 educators supplement their academic knowledge to substantiate “highly qualified” status, and (perhaps more importantly) to feel comfortable enough to share geoscience concepts with their students? How can we in higher education assist this population of already overcommitted, less experienced teachers?

Online geoscience courses developed for teachers may alleviate several concurrent demands. San Jose State University offers the 3 graduate credit, wholly online NASA Earth Science Education-endorsed ESSEA (Earth Systems Science Education Alliance) courses for middle- and high-school teachers. These curricula use jig-saw and cooperative learning strategies to enhance educators' understanding and to augment confidence in teaching geoscience ideas by use of effective modeling. Another course, Earth Systems and the Environment, was developed at SJSU to satisfy all four geoscience sub-disciplines' requirements for content and teaching strategies. While it is intended for future K-12 educators, it also carries general education certification, and is being offered online for the first time this semester (fall, 2005). Online learning builds knowledge while it nurtures a sense of community across disciplines, and across time-zones.