GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 138-1
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM


EGGER, Anne E., Geological Sciences, Central Washington University, 400 E. University Way, Ellensburg, WA 98926-7418,

Most future teachers experience Earth science in a single introductory undergraduate geoscience course. How well do those courses prepare teachers to incorporate the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into their teaching? Specifically, to what extent do faculty use strategies that model the three-dimensional learning of the NGSS? Addressing these questions requires assessing what goes on in the classroom in undergraduate geoscience courses and comparing those results to the expectations of the NGSS.

The National Geoscience Teaching Practices survey has been administered four times: in 2004, 2009, 2012, and 2016. The survey asks faculty to indicate the teaching methods that they use in a specific course and includes questions that are well-aligned with the NGSS about the extent to which they address systems thinking skills, incorporate quantitative and data analysis techniques, and teach in the context of societal issues, among others. Here, we examine responses that describe introductory geoscience courses (n = 775 in 2004, 966 in 2009, 909 in 2012, and 1096 in 2016).

Results show that respondents who spend more than 20% of class time in the “lecture portion” of their introductory course on student activities, questions, and discussion increased from 27.5% in 2004 to 49.7% in 2016. There is a similar increase in the number of respondents who indicated that students engaged in activities where they collected and analyzed their own data, though in 2016 this was still only 41%. Additional analyses address specific science and engineering practices and topics. Questions about systems thinking were only administered in the 2016 survey; results suggest that a small minority of faculty incorporate key aspects of systems thinking such as analyzing feedback loops, making systems visible through causal maps, and making predictive models, all of which feature in the performance expectations of the NGSS.

These analyses suggest that the alignment between the college-level geoscience courses that future teachers are most likely to take and what they are expected to teach is improving, but that the coupling is loose. There are opportunities at both the program and course level to improve the alignment.