2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 242-10
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM


EGGER, Anne E., Dept. of Geological Sciences, Central Washington University, 400 E. University Way, Ellensburg, WA 98926-7418, AWAD, Aida, Science, Maine Township High School East, 2601 Dempster, Park Ridge, IL 60068, SULLIVAN, Susan, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Univ of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, ORR, Cailin Huyck, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College Street, Northfield, MN 55057 and MARA, Valentina, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, NY 10964-8000, annegger@geology.cwu.edu

Recruiting more students—and more diverse students—into Earth and environmental sciences has been a long-term goal of funding agencies, individuals, and institutions. A parallel and complementary goal is raising Earth literacy of all students, whether or not they pursue a degree or career in Earth science. A particularly critical audience is future teachers, whose knowledge, skills, and dispositions powerfully influence their students. From the elementary level to AP environmental science, however, teachers report being underprepared in Earth science, leading to missed opportunities to engage students in learning about Earth and the intersections between Earth science and society.

As Earth scientists and educators, our imperative is to increase Earth literacy of future (and current) teachers. The recent adoption by many states of the Next Generation Science Standards provides an opportunity to modify both individual courses and entire teacher preparation curricula to align with the 3-dimensional learning promoted by the standards. The emphasis in the NGSS on human interactions with Earth and on applying science and engineering practices to content knowledge opens the door to incorporating locally-relevant issues into curricula.

InTeGrate, NSF’s GEO-STEP Center focused on teaching about Earth in the context of societal issues, has developed new, freely available classroom materials for incorporation into elementary and secondary science methods courses; the rigorously reviewed and tested materials incorporate explicit learning about practices used by Earth scientists, engagement in data-rich activities, and lesson-planning that aligns with the NGSS. Additional materials were developed for introductory, general education courses in Earth science, where the vast majority of future teachers encounter their only Earth science content. Students in classes where these materials were used experienced gains in Earth literacy as measured by the geoscience literacy exam (GLE) developed by the project.

In addition, InTeGrate is supporting the development of models for institutional and statewide collaboration to rethink teacher preparation in light of new emphases on Earth, sustainability, and integrated science in the NGSS. Results from these programs will be made available for adoption.