North-Central Section - 47th Annual Meeting (2-3 May 2013)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 3:30 PM


RUDGE, David W., Biological Sciences & The Mallinson Institute for Science Education, Western Michigan University, 3134 Wood Hall, M.S. 5410, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5410 and PETCOVIC, Heather L., Department of Geosciences and The Mallinson Institute for Science Education, Western Michigan University, 1903 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5241,

SCI 5900 Earth Science for Sch. Sci. Ed. is a graduate level on-line geoscience course offered at a large mid-Western university taken by area high school science teachers for the purpose of their on-going professional development. It was created collaboratively by a science educator with some previous experience developing on-line courses (but no formal training in the earth sciences), and an earth science educator who kept him honest. The course was developed against the possibility it would be taken by a single student at a time. Students take a series of learning modules that feature films on introductory earth science content, multiple choice quizzes and concept mapping. Students write occasional reflection essays with reference to select readings on typical misconceptions associated with earth science concepts. Students are also responsible for a five part term paper, which includes: (1) an explanation of a chosen earth science concept/process and identification of common misconceptions students have about that concept/process, (2) an argument for why a scientifically literate person should know the concept/process, (3) an assessment instrument that could be used to determine whether how proficient a student is with regard to the scientific concept/process, (4) a unit plan that details how the concept/process would be taught, and (5) an argument that defends why teaching the concept/process in the way described will indeed help students learn the concept/process. A mandatory rewrite of the entire paper is required of all students. During the presentation the authors will share the story of how the course was developed with particular attention to the strengths and limitations of teaching earth science in an on-line environment. They will also share their attempts to assess both student learning of science content and student comfort with the mode by which it is being delivered.