GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 218-14
Presentation Time: 11:30 AM


EGGER, Anne, Geological Sciences, Central Washington University, 400 E University Way, Ellensburg, WA 98926-7418, VISKUPIC, Karen, Department of Geosciences, Boise State University, 1910 University Drive, Boise, ID 83725 and IVERSON, Ellen, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College St, Northfield, MN 55057

Geoscience education is a complex system. What goes on in any undergraduate classroom is influenced by several factors: individual faculty bring their own experiences, educational background, and attitudes; departments and institutions enact policies that determine class sizes, resource allocation, and the value placed on teaching. Geographic location and institution type and programming influence student demographics. Making a deliberate change within this complex system, such as increasing the use of evidence-based teaching strategies that promote equity and inclusion, requires a thorough understanding of the components, interactions, and interdependencies within the system in order to identify and operationalize leverage points.

Descriptive analyses such as those afforded by repeated surveys play a vital role in monitoring the system and how it changes over time, allowing for the identification of trends and leverage points to inform decisions and prioritize interventions. In education research, for example, widespread use of data from the National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education has shaped federal education policies and funding priorities.

The National Geoscience Faculty Survey (NGFS), administered four times since 2004, has used this approach to monitor the system of undergraduate geoscience education. Survey questions have evolved in response to the accumulation of evidence around teaching practices and changing priorities in the community. Survey results have been analyzed to identify professional development needs, for example, in the use of data and quantitative skills in introductory courses, and new resources and workshops were developed in response to those needs. Results have been triangulated with other data sources, including classroom observations and syllabi, to highlight the robustness and validity of the self-reported data, particularly with respect to the use of active learning strategies.

The value of the NGFS in monitoring the system, identifying needs and priorities, and designing effective interventions increases with broader participation. In future survey administrations, we will work with community liaisons to provide input on survey questions and to promote the value of completing the survey.

  • Egger_etal_2021.pptx (13.7 MB)
  • NGFS_report_2019.pdf (6.1 MB)