2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 11:15 AM

A Math-Science Partnership for Geoscience Education: Increasing the Numbers of Qualified Earth Science Teachers in Virginia

PYLE, Eric J., Department of Geology & Environmental Science, James Madison University, MSC 6903, Harrisonburg, VA 22807 and ST. JOHN, Kristen, Geology And Environmental Science, James Madison University, MSC 6903, Harrisonburg, VA 22807, pyleej@jmu.edu

Virginia, like many states, has suffered from a lack of qualified Earth science teachers, despite the expectation that many grade 9 students will take Earth science. In 2004, the Virginia Department of Education prioritized the reduction of this shortage through the Math-Science Partnership (MSP) program. One of the projects funded by the MSP was the Virginia Earth Science Collaborative (VESC), a partnership of the Math-Science Innovation Center in Richmond, seven higher education institutions, the Science Museum of Virginia, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences. This program also required a partnership by the 70 participating school divisions, providing tuition support to participating teachers. Eligible high school teachers were required to complete 18 credit hours of content as a part of the program. Five courses were designed to meet this requirement: (a) Physical Geology, (b) Oceanography, (c) Meteorology, (d) Geology of Virginia, and (e) Astronomy. Courses A-D were offered at JMU, and JMU faculty served as program-wide course development leaders on courses A & B. All courses were optimized to facilitate teachers' representation of the Virginia Standards of Learning, which offered challenges to faculty with little experience with pre-college Earth science, offset by experience teachers as co-instructors. A total of 224 teachers received Earth science endorsement as a result of this program, successfully reducing Earth science as the #1 certification need area in Virginia to #8. In addition, substantial numbers of middle school teachers participated, strengthening the overall quality of Earth science education in Virginia. This presentation will share details of the overall curriculum and design for VESC, classroom and field-based tasks engaged in by the teachers, evaluation results, special challenges and their resolution. The next step, eagerly anticipated by many of the participating teachers, is the design of a geoscience education masters degree, currently under development at JMU.