GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 220-13
Presentation Time: 4:45 PM


VISAGGI, Christy C.1, SIRIANI, Simone P.1, MARTINEZ, Jessica2, GALBREATH, Brianna3 and ACKER, Adam S.1, (1)Geosciences, Georgia State University, PO Box 3965, Atlanta, GA 30302, (2)College of Education & Human Development, Honors College, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30302, (3)Biology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30302,

Georgia State University is a public research institution with a strong commitment to education. Students of diverse backgrounds come from a range of urban and rural settings primarily represented by the 159 counties in Georgia. This unique student body offers a remarkable opportunity to develop a culture of learning that maintains strong connections to their home while pursuing higher education. Utilizing the sense of place and prior knowledge that these students have regarding their surroundings offers a chance to be more strategic and fully integrate place-based approaches into the curriculum.

Two courses are featured here as examples in how “place” has become a centralizing framework for guiding students in seeing the world through the lens of geosciences, especially in calling upon the physiographic regions as a basis for learning. Time and space are well represented in Georgia from the Precambrian through the Quaternary. Metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary units as well as fossils from a variety of habitats, biotas, and episodes of change through time are reflected in our rock record. The familiar landscapes of Georgia are excellent for demonstrating this complex geologic history and how it has real world implications. The Earth System framework emphasized in Integrated Sciences for pre-service educators provides an ideal structure to draw upon meaningful connections for students. Likewise, non-majors in introductory courses benefit by looking into geologic processes specifically relevant to their life experiences in studying the history of a changing Earth.

Previously, when place was used intermittently for select course activities, students recognized value in connections to Georgia for enhancing their comprehension of particular concepts. However, after more substantial implementation of founding a course in place last spring, pre-/post-surveys indicated improvement in interest in learning as related to Georgia and more focus in planning to provide place-based pedagogy for their own students. Geoscience education and the future of our field could be greatly enhanced by more attention to place in our courses. We need to cultivate a culture that shares ideas and incorporates active learning, project learning, problem-based learning, experiential learning, and more, by linking it all in place.