GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - 2018

Paper No. 274-5
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM


SEMKEN, Steven, School of Earth and Space Exploration and Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University, PO Box 871404, Tempe, AZ 85287-1404

Place-based teaching, originally a practice of Indigenous peoples, respects and weaves multiple diverse threads of place knowledge, including Traditional Ecological Knowledge, into locally situated geoscience curriculum and instruction. The sense of place, which encompasses the intellectual and emotional connections people make to place, has been shown to be a valid learning outcome of the method, and it can be characterized and assessed in various ways. What is less well understood, but crucial to wider use of the place-based method, is how to effectively teach a sense of place: how to enable students not only to learn geoscience in place but also to form affirmative affective responses to place that foster interest in and support of local environmental and cultural protection and sustainability.

The concept of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), which distinguishes an expert teacher from other subject-matter experts, offers a template for research into teaching sense of place. PCK is typically described as an "amalgam" of content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge that develops over time (like sense of place) as a teacher accrues content expertise and teaching experience. Also like sense of place, PCK is unique to each teacher. Research shows that PCK is prerequisite to effective teaching. I hypothesize that good place-based teachers (whether they work in formal or free-choice contexts, and including traditional practitioners and Elders) similarly develop a "pedagogical sense of place" that better enables them to impart their rich and eclectic knowledge of and deep personal connection to place to their students. The same research methods that have previously been brought to bear on characterizing PCK can be used to explore how pedagogical sense of place develops, and to inform geoscience-teacher preparation that fosters greater, more authentic, and more consequential use of place-based education for diversity and sustainability.