GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 138-14
Presentation Time: 5:00 PM


MULVEY, Bridget K., School of Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum Studies, Kent State University-Main Campus, 401 White Hall, 150 Terrace Dr., Kent, OH 44242,

Despite the essential role inquiry / science practices and geospatial thinking play in student success in STEM, K–12 teachers are largely unprepared to develop students’ skills in these areas. The present investigation explored 15 secondary science general education teachers’ use of maps and mapping technologies during an inquiry-based Earth system science (ESS) professional development program, informed by a flexibly adaptive approach. Participants were 15 volunteers of 18 potential general education teacher participants. Data sources per participant included lesson artifacts, lesson observations, and written reflections. Analytic induction was used to develop themes across participants.

Before ESS, participants gave little consideration to the geospatial nature of Earth science inquiry and used maps, remotely sensed imagery mostly as a visualization tool. During ESS, all participants improved the extent to which they used maps and/or mapping technologies. All taught by inquiry, integrating remotely sensed imagery, maps, and/or spatial data into their instruction more than the previous year. All but one participant implemented technology-enhanced inquiry instruction. Three themes of change characterized participant growth: increased attention to spatial nature of science inquiry; shift from geospatial technology like Google Earth as visualization tool to science inquiry tool and “game changer”; increased student responsibility and differentiation to meet students’ needs.

A flexible teaching context such as that associated with elective courses seemed to support more substantive and meaningful geospatial data to support inquiry when compared to required courses. Some participants’ instruction one year post-ESS involved greater instructional improvements. For example, Ryan, who taught eighth grade made minor adjustments toward geospatial inquiry during ESS. Yet the next year, he was moved to the district high school to teach a STEM elective course. He wrote a grant for a project to test and improve local water quality with the author’s support and won $20,000 in technology for the state award. Participants identified experiencing many model lessons as learners and a supportive community of practice as program aspects that particularly helped them shift their instructional practices.