Paper No. 3-12
Presentation Time: 11:10 AM
THE STATUS OF TEACHING MINERALOGY AND PETROLOGY IN U.S. INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION: 2021
The expertise of mineralogists and petrologists is critical as society transitions to clean energy sources and advanced technologies while sustaining a healthy natural environment. To assess the training of these geoscientists, in mid-2020 the Mineralogical Society of America’s (MSA) Council voted to support a study examining the status of mineralogy and petrology teaching in U.S. institutions of higher learning. A survey was created, reviewed, piloted with 20 faculty members, and revised for wider distribution. The survey was emailed to 174 MSA members in all 50 states. Seventy-seven completed surveys were returned for a response rate of 44 percent. The survey items covered these areas: mineralogy and petrology courses offered; typical enrollment in those courses; labs, project work, and field trip components; textbooks and other materials used for instruction; syllabi; trends in enrollment and completed degrees in the past five years; key concepts and skills taught; entities hiring graduates at various levels; teaching and student recruitment/retention suggestions; and an indication of respondents’ interest in serving as mentors. Initial results indicate that current mineralogy and petrology faculty aim to impart knowledge (i.e., mineral and rock identification), skills (including use of analytical equipment), and analysis (making connections between minerals, rocks, and geochemistry). Many have incorporated new teaching methods into their courses in the past two years, but only a minority of respondents reported that they stress societal applications of mineralogy and petrology in their courses. The report from the study will be released in the fall of 2021 and will serve as a baseline for future research. Information from the survey (syllabi; teaching and recruitment suggestions) will be added, with the permission of the survey respondents, to the Online Teaching Resources on both MSA’s website and the Minerals Day website. Results of the survey will form the basis for a series of online webinars on teaching methods, job opportunities for graduates, recruitment/retention strategies to bring more diversity into the geosciences, and effective mentoring techniques.