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. 3
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-6:00 PM

Transforming Earth System Science Education (TESSE): The Rewards and Challenges Associated with Integrating Graduate Students into the Classroom

NELSON, Wendy R.1, NARKIEWICZ, Marielle R.2, ALEXANDER, George W.2, FURMAN, Tanya3 and GUERTIN, Laura A.4, (1)Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, (2)Energy and Geo-Environmental Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, (3)Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, 333 Deike Building, University Park, PA 16802, (4)Earth Science, Penn State Brandywine, 25 Yearsley Mill Road, Media, PA 19063, wrn112@psu.edu

The Transforming Earth System Science Education (TESSE) program pairs graduate student teaching fellows with middle and high school teachers in order to facilitate teaching principles of Earth science as integrated systems through inquiry-based activities. The graduate fellows serve as a science content resource to the teachers while the teachers serve as pedagogy resources to the graduate student. At the close of the program's first year, our experiences have revealed a number of rewards and challenges inherently tied to the program. Teachers were located all across Pennsylvania, making weekly face-to-face interactions impossible. Instead, the graduate student traveled to the school bi-weekly to monthly and stayed a full day to two days for a concentrated visit. Some graduate fellow-teacher relationships successfully used telecommunication to collaborate between visits while other pairings suffered from lack of communication. In the classrooms, graduate fellows learned pedagogical techniques and implemented new teaching methodologies in generally successful attempts to reach diverse student populations. Class abilities and dynamics were highly variable, necessitating lesson simplification or expansion in order to teach concepts and facilitate inquiry-based learning. Course diversity was also challenging; graduate fellows and teachers utilized educational resources available on the internet to teach data analysis and computation, reading comprehension, and basic math with an Earth science foundation. Our experiences reveal the rewards and challenges of program implementation in a geographically dispersed setting.