GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 264-3
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


ALTERMATT, Ellen1, IVERSON, Ellen1, BEANE, Rachel2 and MACDONALD, R. Heather3, (1)Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College Street, Northfield, MN 55057, (2)Geology, Bowdoin College, 6800 College Station, Brunswick, ME 04011, (3)Department of Geology, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795

Since 1999, more than 1,000 faculty members have attended the NSF-funded Workshop for Early Career Geoscience Faculty ( This annual, multi-day workshop takes a “whole faculty” approach to professional development by supporting faculty as they learn to navigate and balance the multiple facets of their professional lives. Drawing upon key principles from situated learning theory and adult learning theory, one goal of the workshop is to support faculty implementation of student-centered teaching practices through sessions that are carefully designed to be interactive, to model effective teaching, and to support participants learning from each other in a community of practice. To evaluate the efficacy of the workshop in achieving this goal, we have taken an iterative, multi-method approach that triangulates data collected from surveys and interviews targeted at workshop alumni and data collected from an independent, national survey of geoscience faculty. This approach yields convergent, compelling evidence that workshop participation positively influences faculty teaching practices and offers insight into the processes by which faculty learning occurs. For example, using data collected from the 2016 National Geoscience Faculty Survey, we compared the self-reported teaching practices of 277 survey respondents who participated in the early career workshop with a comparison group of 1,218 survey respondents who did not. Analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs) that controlled for degree type, length of time teaching, and institution type yielded statistically significant differences between the two groups. Compared to faculty members who did not participate in the early career workshop, workshop participants reported more frequent use of student-centered teaching strategies. Workshop participants were also more likely to report that they felt part of a geoscience community that shares their goals, philosophy, and values for geoscience education and that interactions with this community help them to become better educators. These findings are important given that the most effective strategies for catalyzing widespread and sustained change from instructor-centered to student-centered teaching practices are still not well understood.