2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 305-13
Presentation Time: 12:00 PM


KIRST, Scott R., Education Department, St. Norbert College, 100 Grant Street, De Pere, WI 54115 and FLOOD, Tim P., Geology, Saint Norbert College, 100 Grant St, De Pere, WI 54115-2002

St. Norbert College (SNC) is a small, liberal arts college located in the Green Bay, WI metropolitan area that graduates approximately 100 K-8 licensed teachers per year. Each of these teachers is expected to be able to teach science for their respective grades, yet SNC requires only one laboratory science course for graduation. Very often these students elect to take the general education geology course. To address this issue, and with support from NSF, SNC combined the required science education course in the Education Department with the general education geology class. The new class is a yearlong 8-credit course co-taught by faculty from the Education and Geology Departments. The premise is that the geologist teaches the science component and the education professor teaches the “how to teach the science that you just learned” component. Included in this new course is a 3-day field trip that precedes the course. The goal of the fieldtrip is to inform, and hopefully inspire, the future teachers to the nature of science and the process of science.

The first iteration of the fieldtrip was a classic show and tell geology fieldtrip. Unfortunately it did not meet the designed education goals. In general, the major shortcoming was related to the students’ lack of basic concepts of science and the vocabulary of science. For example, most participants had taken only one physical science class in high school and none had taken earth science. To improve the field trip experience, we decided to make it project-based and combine it with a required component in the classroom portion of the new course. The project requires students to produce a video based on their literature research into a geologic topic. This project assesses the student’s ability to engage in scientific practices as well as their ability to disseminate a scientific concept. For our new course, the project revolved around large earth science concepts such as geologic time, mountain building, water, differential weathering, glaciation and other. Teams of students selected a topic and the corresponding field trip stops were designed to meet the needs of the students. This approach engaged the students and circumvented their deficient science background. Preliminary results suggest a project-based pre-course field trip is more effective than a classic geology field trip.