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October 2009 NAGT e-Newsletter - Page 2

Meteor Crater Panorama
Panorama of Meteor Crater. Photo by Ron Wirgart.

New Web Resources from Sponsored Projects

Jump to: New Teaching Methods | New Teaching Activities | New Topical Resources | Strengthen Your Department

New Teaching Methods

These modules describe pedagogies and how to use them in the classroom they build off the model implemented in the Starting Point: Teaching Introductory Geoscience website.

ConcepTests; David McConnell, North Carolina State University.
ConcepTests are conceptual multiple-choice questions that focus on one key concept of an instructor's learning goals for a lesson. When coupled with student interaction through peer instruction, ConcepTests represent a rapid method of formative assessment of student understanding. ConcepTests are products of a teaching strategy known as peer instruction that was initially developed to provide a mechanism for introducing effective active learning strategies into physics lecture classes without having to make acute changes to course content or organization.

Teaching Urban Students; Wayne Powell, Brooklyn College - City University of New York
There are two main reasons to teach urban students differently: they are a different population and they live in a different environment. Students build understanding by connecting new information to their personal knowledge-base and experiences. Urban students bring a rich set of experiences to the classroom that may be significantly different than those of students in small-town settings, including cultural perspectives and intimate knowledge of foreign environments. Effective teaching of urban students requires instructors to tap into these rich experiences, cultural customs, and practical skills sets to design activities that urban students will consider to be "real."

Jigsaws; Barbara Tewksbury, Hamilton College
In a jigsaw, the class is divided into several teams, with each team preparing separate but related assignments. When all team members are prepared, the class is re-divided into mixed groups, with one member from each team in each group. Each person in the group teaches the rest of the group what he/she knows, and the group then tackles an assignment together that pulls all of the pieces together to form the full picture, hence the name jigsaw.

Lecture Tutorials; Karen M. Kortz, Community College of Rhode Island and Jessica J. Smay, San Jose City College
Lecture Tutorials are short worksheets that students complete in class to make lecture more interactive. They are designed specifically to address misconceptions and other topics with which students have difficulties. They pose questions of increasing conceptual difficulty to the students, cause conflict with alternative conceptions, and help students construct correct scientific ideas. Research shows that Lecture Tutorials increase student learning more than just lecture alone.

Structured Academic Controversy; Claudia Khourey-Bowers, Kent State University
A Structured Academic Controversy (SAC) is a type of cooperative learning strategy in which small teams of students learn about a controversial issue from multiple perspectives. The structured academic controversy technique is designed to engage students in controversy and then guide them to seek consensus.

Teaching the Process of Science; Anne Egger, Stanford University
While many texts and resources are available for you to teach science content, few explicitly help you integrate the process of science into your teaching. This collaborative effort has produced a set of resources to rectify that situation: Visionlearning has developed a series of readings aimed at the undergraduate level that explicitly address aspects of the process of science such as different types of research methods, the nature of peer review, and data analysis and interpretation, and this module contains the background and examples you need to integrate the process of science into your teaching.

Guided Discovery Problems; Ann Bykerk-Kauffman, California State University, Chico
Through intriguing puzzles to solve, structured hands-on activities, carefully worded leading questions, crucial hints, and just-in-time presentations of information, guided discovery problems escort students step-by-step through the discovery process, giving them a tantalizing taste of the most delicious part of science.

New Teaching Activites

There are several new collections of teaching materials available from various sponsored programs.

MARGINS Mini-Lesson Collection
MARGINS Mini-Lessons are modular learning materials that repurpose the data resources, visualizations, and other information sources developed through MARGINS and MARGINS-related research for use in examining fundamental earth processes in undergraduate classrooms from a multidisciplinary perspective.

Earth Exploration Toolbook
EET is a collection of computer-based Earth science activities. Each chapter introduces one or more data sets and an analysis tool that enables users to explore some aspect of the Earth system. A new chapter on Understanding Carbon Storage in Forests is now available and one on Envisioning Climate Change Using a Global Climate Model will be released in the near future.

Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum: Geology of the National Parks Collection
The Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum project is in the process of developing a new set of teaching activities for use in a Geology of National Parks course. The learning modules are being developed in collaboration by faculty and graduate students in the University of South Florida Geology Department together with eight Research Learning Centers.

New Topical Resources

On the Cutting Edge has developed several new topical resources for Geoscience faculty on various issues.

The Role of Metacognition in Teaching Geoscience
An awareness of the learning process can improve learning dramatically. Yet students are rarely taught how to develop this awareness. We can help our students to improve their learning by incorporating metacognition into our courses: by having them think about their thinking and by helping them to become aware of and monitor their learning strategies.

Teaching about Energy in Geoscience Courses
We may be poised on the brink of a shift in energy use and energy policy. Pressing issues like the longevity of petroleum supplies and rapidly expanding global markets competing for finite energy supplies are concurrent with considerations such as climate change policy and a push toward domestic energy production. Geoscience plays a role in many facets of energy science and policy; hence our students need solid footing on which to navigate through this complex subject. Whether as citizens and consumers or as scientific leaders in the field, today's students will play important roles in the future of energy.

Teaching Symmetry Using Kinesthetic Learning
Symmetry is one of the most difficult concepts for students to master in an introductory mineralogy course. It is an abstract concept, and students rarely have had any formal introduction to the subject. Symmetry operations contribute to the "architecture" of crystalline structures by defining the regular, periodic distribution of atoms that lead to the development of three-dimenstional, long-range, ordered crystals. Graphical representations and physical models are typically used to teach symmetry with only marginal success. As an alternative, this module presents a kinesthetic learning approach to demonstrate the dynamic nature of symmetry using "old-time" dancing!

The Hurricane-Climate Change Connection
Large hurricanes have captured the attention of many citizens in recent years and prompts the inevitable question about the relationship between climate change and hurricanes. This website focuses on recent hurricanes and the latest climate change research to engage students and help them understand the central issues of climate change and hurricane activity.

Teaching Paleontology in the 21st Century
This site is devoted to a variety of resources for faculty members who teach undergraduate paleontology. We have provided links to a growing collection of activities and assignments, internet and computer resources, presentations from workshops, and lots of creative ideas for teaching paleontology.

Strengthen Your Department

Building Strong geoscience Departments
This successful project has new and expanded resources on Curriculum Development and Program Assessment available through its website.

Visiting Workshops Program
Building Strong Geoscience Departments has also begun a Visiting Workshop Program. Departments will be able to select topics of high interest from a list of our areas of expertise. Two of our workshop leaders will work with the department to develop a program and deliver the programming on (or near) campus.

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