GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 305-2
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM


MOGK, D.W., Dept. Earth Sciences, Montana State Univ, Bozeman, MT 59717,

Inquiry. Discovery. Exploration. These are the motivators of much of the scientific enterprise, and there is good evidence that these are important for the recruitment, retention, and training of the next generation of the GEO/STEM workforce. Numerous national reports have called for inclusion of authentic research experiences in the undergraduate curriculum (e.g., PCAST, 2012; NRC, 2015). Given appropriate preparation, guidance and supervision, ALL students should have the opportunity to engage authentic research: for GEO majors to master the concepts and skills required to enter the community of practice and for non-majors to gain experience with the processes and products of science towards creating a scientifically literate citizenry. Undergraduate research activities may include: replication or simulation of experiments; collection of new data using available instrumentation (including sample preparation, standardization, data analysis); use of physical models where students can design experiments and measure outputs; use of computer models and GIS to generate results; accessing, manipulating and rendering existing geoscience data from credentialed sources; crowd-sourcing to aggregate data; and characterizing field sites to create long-term databases. Some general principles apply to the design, development and implementation of undergraduate research projects at all levels: 1) select the right scope of the project to meet student interests and abilities; 2) clearly define learning goals and project outcomes; 3) align project assessments with the learning goals; 4) use pedagogic practices that are congruent with the project; 5) use “guided discovery” and scaffolding to monitor student progress and ensure success; 6) prepare students, instructors and facilities; 7) mentor (lead by example, anticipate problems, respond as needed); and, 8) plan a realistic implementation plan, timelines, logistical needs, and contingencies. A continuum of research opportunities should be provided to students from introductory courses, through courses for majors, independent study and REU opportunities. Extensive resources can be found at the On the Cutting Edge Undergraduate Research as Teaching Practice website: Students should learn science by doing science.