GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 233-10
Presentation Time: 4:15 PM


KAISER, Jason F., Physical Science Department, Southern Utah University, 351 West Center Street, Cedar City, UT 84780,

While innovative teaching practices are applied throughout geology curricula all over the country, making connection between the Earth Sciences and non-science disciplines has been lacking at the General Education level. Southern Utah University has implemented a fully integrated General Education program called Jumpstart, in which freshman college students enroll in a series of set courses that revolve around a common theme. During the 2016-2017 school year one of Jumpstart had a theme of “Our National Parks”, which students learned about the national parks and the national park service through Geology, Biology, English, Humanities, Anthropology, American Government, Statistics, Art History, and Computer Science classes. The goal was to integrate the content of the courses while teach about the national parks theme. The integration gave rise to collaborations across campus that highlighted geology in a variety of contexts. My goal as the geology instructor was to highlight the need for a base knowledge of Earth Science in order to fully appreciate the concepts from Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts. Throughout the year, I developed projects with faculty from other disciplines to integrate learning outcomes. Projects included a poster presentation describing the water, landscape, climate, and life of Utah during an assigned geologic time period. In addition to learning principles in Geology and Biology, students applied concepts from Computer Science and English to complete the project. The final assessment included a GSA-style poster session to assess communication skills. In the English course, students were assigned blog posts highlighting different literary techniques. The students were able to use issues in the Earth Sciences as the backdrop for many of their blog entries. Students were also exposed to collaborative teaching and learning on a daily basis. When not teaching, faculty were commonly in the room, participating as students, or interjecting when topics overlapped with their own discipline. This classroom dynamic carried over to the field trips to national parks throughout the western U.S. With a year of collaborative teaching and learning, students were able to see the application of Earth Sciences in every discipline across campus and in issues of their daily lives.