Webinar-03-21-14 - American Geosciences Institute

Summit on the Future of
Undergraduate Geoscience
Dr. Sharon Mosher
Dean, Jackson School of Geosciences
Sponsored by
Jackson School of Geosciences
University of Texas at Austin
January 10-12, 2014
• Brought together ~200 educators representing broad
spectrum of undergraduate geoscience education
– R1 research universities with undergraduate programs, 4-year and 2year colleges
– Faculty, heads & chairs, education researchers
– Industry & professional society representatives
• Collectively discussed issues facing geosciences
• 2 Keynotes, 3 panel discussions, small working group sessions;
working group presentations
• All but individual working group sessions recorded & available
online (link found at:
• 1st step in development a high-level community vision for
the geosciences
– ongoing community process
Motivations: Geoscience Research today & in
the future…
• Interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and
• Complex interactions between different parts of the
Earth system
– Earth’s interior and surface, hydrosphere, atmosphere,
cryosphere, and biosphere
– Coupling of chemical, physical, biological and geological
– Deep time, present day processes, future impacts
• Important in addressing societally important issues
– ethics, economics, policy and communication
As research changes – education must change
Motivation: Transformation in Undergraduate
• New ways of enhancing student learning
• New pedagogies for STEM education; discipline-based
education research (DBER)
• Flipped classrooms, blended learning, Massive Online Open
Courses (MOOC’s), crowd-sourcing of open education
• Virtual experiences, visualization and geospatial tools
• Opportunities for shared resources and courses with local
• Computational modeling and simulation of processes and
global-scale events
• Massive amounts of quantitative information – BIG DATA
As technology & data change – how and what
we teach must change
Motivations: Diverse & Informed Future
• Broadening Participation and Retention of
Underrepresented Groups
– Geosciences: <10% low-income, first-generation, and
underrepresented minorities
– 12% of geoscientists retire in 10 years
– 35% increase in geoscience jobs in 10 years
• Preparing K-12 teachers
~10-15% take geosciences in middle or high school
Educate informed citizens
Instill interest in geoscience careers
Next Generation Science Standards
Geoscience Literacy documents
External Motivations
For increasing student learning to prepare students
for future (not present) workforce
• Pressure nationally from above
• Pressure locally from above
– Legislatures, coordinating and/or governing
boards/regents, presidents/provosts
• Other external pressures
– Public, alumni, parents, students
• Personal pressure
– Joy, satisfaction, obligation
Why does this matter?
– Funding, Influence, Survival
Summit Outcomes Summary
• Focus on skills, competencies, concepts,
learning outcomes, not disciplinary content
or curriculum
– Universally accepted for scientists
Critical thinking/problem solving
Communicate effectively to scientists & non-scientists
Understand and use scientific research methods
Have strong quantitative skills and ability to apply
Work in interdisciplinary teams and across cultures
Ability to access and integrate information from
different sources and to continue to learn
Skills for Geoscientists
• Work with uncertainty, non-uniqueness, incompleteness,
ambiguity and indirect observations
• Readily solve problems, especially those requiring spatial
and temporal (i.e. 3D and 4D) interpretations
• Make inferences about Earth system from observations of
natural world combined with experimentation and modeling
• Have strong computational skills and the ability to manage
and analyze large datasets
• Integrate data from different disciplines and apply systems
• Have strong field skills and a working knowledge of GIS
• Be technologically versatile (i.e. Google Earth, tablets,
smartphones, apps)
Geoscience Concepts
• Earth as a complex dynamic system
– linkages between the different systems (e.g., lithosphere,
hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere etc.).
– coupling between chemical, physical, biological and
geological processes
• Deep time, including the origin and evolution of life
and Earth; present day processes & future impacts
• How Earth works, including surficial and tectonic
processes; natural resources (including water and
energy), natural hazards, climate change
• Understand societal relevance of geoscience topics
and ethical dimensions
Pedagogy & Use of Technology
• Use proven active learning methods and pedagogy
– Disseminate, encourage use & increase current
knowledge base; illustrate benefits
– Incorporate collaborative, integrative, interdisciplinary
– Integrate research projects & experiences, problem
solving projects, field experiences into curriculum
• Integrate technology, visualization, simulation,
modeling, and big data as appropriate
– Sophisticated systems can strongly facilitate student
exploration and classroom interactivity
– Make better use of social networking, educational games
and crowdsourcing
Barriers & Solutions
• Resources – financial and space needs
– Time and support to develop and pilot new instructional
– Space redesigned from lecture-based to interactive classes
– Technology infrastructure
– Performance-based incentives to change
– Investment in professional development activities
• Annual performance evaluations and tenure and
promotion do not reward efforts to improve teaching
• Resources – community
– Availability of web-based resources, such as repositories of data
and curricula, examples of effective implementation
– Build faculty awareness of the availability of resources
• Different incoming student backgrounds & quantitative
Preparation of Future K-12 Teachers
• Integrate Next Generation Science Standards into
undergraduate curricula
– Prepare future teachers to do the same
• Integrate math & basic sciences into course content
– Provide geologic examples that can be used in teaching
those subjects
• Encourage collaborations with K-12 in-service
teachers and improvements in pre-service programs
– Can use to address “Broader Impacts” research grant
• Be aware of state teacher education & licensure
requirements, local K-12 instruction requirements &
content assessment
• Build collaborations between Y4C & Y2C faculty
Broadening Participation of Underrepresented Groups
• Emulate & develop successful recruiting programs
– Provide financial support
– Reach out to students in their communities
– Involve members of the community (families, high school teachers,
guidance counselors)
– Incorporate role models
– Include mentoring
• Collaboration among Y4C, 2YC, Hispanic Serving Institutions (HIS),
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) faculty
– Provides pathways for successfully transfer to Y4C
– REUs to recruit and provide opportunities for 2YC, HBCU and HIS
• Develop or collaborate with STEM programs for minority students
at pre-high school and high school levels
• Address geosciences image
– Emphasize societal relevance & career prospects
– Earth is Calling video, posters/brochures
What is the Future Roadmap for sustained
History repeating itself?
Some have done this before
Many were not involved 18 years ago
Geoscience research has changed
Technology & data has changed
Culture, motivations changing
How do we learn from past?
• Have recommendations broadly embraced and implemented
• Requires combined efforts of all of us
• Heads & Chairs, Professional societies & industry roles
Next steps towards completing & implementing
community vision
• Disseminate results of Summit
– Webinars, town meetings, articles, talks, reports, surveys
• Increase awareness and use of already developed
community resources & effective pedagogy & techniques
• Further refine vision, generate more detailed plans, provide
examples, hold follow-on activities
• Role of Heads & Chairs in stimulating change
– Establish academic cultures that reward innovative teaching,
including promotion & tenure
– Improve instructional infrastructure
– Allocate time and support for faculty developing and piloting new
instructional approaches
– Provide performance-based incentives to change
– Invest in professional development activities for faculty
– Make effective teaching an important hiring criterion
– Make effective teaching part of graduate student professional
• Roles of professional societies
– Disseminate results of Summit
– Spearhead follow-on activities
– Advocate for a community vision for geoscience
undergraduate education
– Organize professional development efforts for young
faculty & experienced faculty
• Roles of employers
– Provide input on community vision
– Articulate future workforce needs – skills, competencies,
critical concepts
– Work with department faculty on providing practical
applications, projects, research & experiences for
• Sustained change in geoscience undergraduate
– Combined, coordinated efforts of departments and
– Administrators, individual faculty innovators
– Geoscience professional societies & future workforce
• Affect culture change - administration down to
student level
– Overcome roadblocks to implementation
• View Outcomes:
– Links to reports, archived webcasts of summit,
community resources, background reading, future
activities, etc.
– http://www.jsg.utexas.edu/events/future-of-geoscienceundergraduate-education/
Tim Bralower, Pennsylvania State University
Jacqueline Huntoon, Michigan Technological University
Peter Lea, Bowdoin College
David McConnell, North Carolina State University
Kate Miller, Texas A&M University
Sharon Mosher, University of Texas at Austin
Jeff Ryan, University of South Florida
Lori Summa, ExxonMobil Upstream Research
Joshua Villalobos, El Paso Community College
Lisa White, University of California – Berkeley
Robert Frodeman, University of North Texas
James Collins, Arizona State University
Anne Egger, Central Washington University
Ashanti Johnson, Institute for Broadening Participation; University of Texas at
Chris Keane, American Geoscience Institute
Lyndsey LeMay, Thomas Nelson Community College
Cathy Manduca, SERC
Steve Marshak, University of Illinois at Urbana
Stephen Mattox, Grand Valley State
David McConnell, North Carolina State University
Dave Mogk, Montana State University
Steven Whitmeyer, James Madison University
Questions and Discussion
• If you would like to speak, press the “raise
your hand” icon on the webinar control panel.
• If you would rather type, you can use the
chat/questions box.
Heads & Chairs Webinar Series Schedule
Join us for the next webinar
When: Friday, April 18, from 1-2 pm EST
Topic: The Future of Field Camps
Register for this webinar and others at:
Audiovisual recording of today’s webinar will be
available in the coming weeks.
If you have additional questions or comments
about the webinar series, or would like to join the
AGU Heads and Chairs listserv, or participate in
the workshop at the AGU Fall Meeting, please
contact Pranoti Asher at [email protected]

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