2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


GOSSELIN, David C., Environmental Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 150 Hardin Hall, Lincoln, NE 68583-0941, BONNSTETTER, Ronald J., Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 211A HENZ, Lincoln, NE 68588-0355, YENDRA, Sara, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 602 Hardin Hall, Lincoln, NE 68583-0996, SLATER, Timothy F., Astronomy Department, Univ of Arizona, Steward Observatory, 933 N Cherry Ave, Tucson, AZ 85721 and DOLL, Elizabeth J., Educational Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 228 TEAC, Lincoln, NE 68588-0345, dgosselin2@unl.edu

In the summer of 2005, we received funding from NASA to initiate the creation of an Earth Science Institute for Elementary Educators (ESIEE. The goal of ESIEE is to develop a virtual teacher-, knowledge-, assessment-, and community-centered online institute to improve elementary teachers' content knowledge and teaching skills related to Earth Systems Science. The primary approach being used to achieve this goal is the creation of the Laboratory Earth professional development series that consists of graduate level, distance-delivered, online courses designed for K– 8 (and above) educators. Our assessment objectives are to deliver a high quality professional development educational experience, improve participant's ability to understand and apply Earth system science concepts in their classroom, and to increase teacher's sense of belonging to a community. Currently, we have developed and delivered two module-based courses, Laboratory Earth: Earth and Its Systems and Laboratory Earth: Earth's Natural Resource Systems. A third course tentatively titled, Laboratory Earth: Changing Environments in the Earth System, is in the developmental stages. Each course consists of four modules that engage students using multiple strategies to meet a variety of learning styles. A series of content questions are used to focus the student on the concepts they will be learning throughout the course. These content questions are also used to assess the progress the student has made toward learning the concepts from the beginning to the end of the course. The combined results from STEBI-A (teacher efficacy for teaching science scale), LEO, (scale to assess teacher's sense of community within the course), and BES (Beliefs About Earth Science to assess the degree to which teachers enjoy teaching science) demonstrate statistically significant growth in teachers' sense of cohesion of the course and the value they place on teaching Earth science. Analysis of the responses to the content questions demonstrates significant knowledge gains from the beginning to the end of the course. The Laboratory Earth series is also providing the foundation for a Toyota Foundation funded initative to create an online, distance delivered, Masters degree program, tentatively titled, Applied Science Education.