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

Paper No. 305-8
Presentation Time: 10:45 AM


KENT, Molly1, EGGER, Anne E.2, BITTING, Kelsey S.3, COOK, Geoffrey W.4 and MANDUCA, Cathryn A.1, (1)Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, Northfield, MN 55057, (2)Geological Sciences and Science Education, Central Washington University, 400 E. University Way, Ellensburg, WA 98926-7418, (3)Dept of Geology, University of Kansas, 1475 Jayhawk Blvd, Lindley Hall, Lawrence, KS 66044, (4)School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Washington State University, now at:: Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Univ. of California, San Diego, CA 92193, Pullman, WA 99164

Introductory geoscience courses play a pivotal role in undergraduate education: they serve as a recruiting platform for majors and future professionals, provide critical experiences in geoscience for pre-service teachers, and may be the only course in geoscience that future policy makers, business people, professionals and citizens ever take. Often, they not only fulfill general education requirements within the institution, but are also expected to build students’ critical thinking skills and science content knowledge. The value and importance of these courses is sometimes overlooked, so it is not surprising that faculty and departments can be reluctant to make changes as long as a course is “good enough.” However, the very importance of introductory courses suggests that every effort should be made to make them as effective as possible.

To assist these efforts, a set of web pages designed for faculty, and informed by participants at the 2014 On the Cutting Edge workshop Getting the Most Out of Your Intro Courses, was created. The pages provide information on a variety of models for introductory geoscience courses, a method for evaluating a course’s strengths and weaknesses within the context of the department and institution, and guidance for making changes strategically. The pages also include resources that support making those changes, including how to gather evidence that change is required, tips for working successfully with the institution’s administration, and strategies that can be used to assess the results of any revisions. Further resources on managing multi-section courses, team teaching, and working with and training teaching assistants are also available. Learn more from the Introductory Courses web site at On the Cutting Edge: serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/intro