GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 195-4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


DAHL, Robyn Mieko, Department of Geology, Western Washington University, 516 High Street, Bellingham, WA 98225

In order to properly educate the general population about societally-relevant concepts in Earth Science like global climate change, natural hazards and evolution, Earth Science university faculty must understand how K-12 educational curriculum and standards are structured. This is because most Americans will never take a college-level Earth Science or Paleontology course in their lifetime. Only about 30% of Americans 25 years or older hold a bachelor’s degree, and far fewer opt to enroll in an Earth Science course while earning that degree. The most likely place that a student will engage with Earth Science content is in their elementary, middle or high school classrooms, where they will be taught by teachers, not Earth Scientists. But even at the K12 level, only eight states in the country require Earth Science coursework for graduation. Most states have adopted either the Next Generation Science Standards or a similarly-structured set of standards based on three-dimensional learning strategies, so most K12 students should engage with Earth Science content throughout their elementary, middle and secondary education. According to the 2018 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education, about two-thirds of middle and high school teachers have taken an introductory Earth or Space Science course, but only one-third reported taking any additional Earth or Space Science courses beyond the introductory course (Horizon Research, 2018). University faculty should consider these statistics when designing and teaching introductory Earth Science courses. Faculty who teach introductory Earth Science courses should be familiar with the science standards in their state so that they can provide future teachers with a strong understanding of requisite Earth Science content.