Paper No. 365-1
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
PROMOTING K-12 GEOSCIENCE EDUCATION THROUGH AN EMPHASIS ON GEOSCIENCE PRACTICES AND CROSSCUTTING CONCEPTS
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are triggering an unprecedented change in U.S. science education, with the defining NGSS characteristic being is its 3-dimensional interweaving of science content with both science & engineering practices and a set of crosscutting concepts. The addition of the science and engineering practices (SEPs) and crosscutting concepts (CCCs) into the science standards of more than ¾ of U.S. schools will revolutionize how K-12 (and beyond) geoscience education is taught. The inclusion of the SEPs and CCCs into the standards of at least 41 states stands to significantly improve student understanding of all areas of science. Current educational research shows that allowing students to study a smaller volume of scientific content through deeper, active, practice-centered, problem-based, and phenomenon-based learning methods not only allows students to appreciate and enjoy science more, but also to retain and recall more scientific information than traditional memorization-centered methods. However, the benefits for geoscience education are enhanced both because of the opportunities provided by the SEPs and CCCs and because of the liabilities of previous standards. The SEPs have a strong emphasis on obtaining, analyzing, and interpreting data, and this benefits geoscience because of its strong data-driven observational nature. The SEPs and CCCs also include connections to STEM concepts relating to engineering, technology, and computation, and this favors geoscience because of its strong NGSS emphasis on human sustainability, reducing the risks from natural hazards, minimizing human impacts while obtaining natural resources, and reigning in global warming. The NGSS identifies certain performance expectations as having strong STEM connections, are there are more of these call-outs for high school geoscience than for life and physical science combined. The CCCs also have a strong emphasis on system processes, and this will help move geoscience education away from a dull set of classifications to a vibrant transdisciplinary interconnection of Earth Science Systems. Significant challenges lay ahead, such as developing assessments that can adequately monitor the impacts of the SEPs and CCCs, but geoscience education stands to greatly improve through their inclusion.