Paper No. 104-1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM
ON THE CUTTING EDGE: ENDURING LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES FOR GEOSCIENCE FACULTY (Invited Presentation)
The On the Cutting Edge Professional Development Program for Geoscience Faculty was established in 2002 with funding from a National Science Foundation grant entitled “Combining Real and Virtual Professional Development for Current and Future Geoscience Faculty.” With goals of accelerating dissemination of effective practice to improve the teaching of geoscience, educating current and future undergraduate geoscience faculty in emerging fields related to Earth systems, and using information technology most effectively, not only for teaching but also for disseminating best practices in geoscience education, the project immediately changed the face of geoscience professional development in two major ways. It created a comprehensive professional development program spanning many of the needs of geoscience faculty and a collection of web-based resources that extended the reach of workshops far beyond the participants. The workshop design emphasized modeling effective practices, learning from one another, and leaving workshops with practical ideas that could be used immediately. In addition to face-to-face multi-day workshops, the program offered short workshops and sessions at national meetings, virtual workshops, webinars and journal clubs. Faculty taking advantage of the workshops report and have been observed as a group to use more engaged teaching methods than non-participants. Subsequent grants supporting the program focused on building a culture of sharing, continuous learning, and communal improvement in support of undergraduate geoscience teaching. The Cutting Edge community has contributed and peer-reviewed more than 1500 teaching activities and established ongoing research teams studying geoscience teaching and the program’s impact. Today, the Cutting Edge program is managed by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers and sustained through participant fees, contributions from geoscience professional societies, NSF funds, and individual donations. It is part of a larger suite of professional activities for geoscience education, many of which share its underpinning philosophy and workshop design. Over 4000 educators have participated in this exponentially growing community that was launched by On the Cutting Edge.