In the Trenches - October 2018

Celebrating Teachers Who Inspire

Volume 8, Number 4

In This Issue

Online Supplements

This site provides web links that supplement the print articles as well as news and web resources. Members can follow the "Read more" links below to access full versions of the articles online. To receive the full edition of In the Trenches, join NAGT

Integrating InTeGrate: Faculty Assess Classroom Experience

ELIZABETH NAGY-SHADMAN, Pasadena City College, Pasadena, CA; TIFFANY RIVERA, Westminster College, Salt Lake City, UT; CHRIS BERG, Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, CA; MARK ABOLINS, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN; WILLIAM HANSEN, Worcester State University, Worcester, MA; DAREN NELSON, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Pembroke, NC; LAURA RADEMACHER, University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA, MATHIEU RICHAUD, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA.

Introductory, non-major geoscience courses provide a venue where students can develop new and valuable insights about important issues such as global sustainability and environmental challenges. This report summarizes faculty experiences using materials from the InTeGrate Project that actively engage students in learning about the Earth system in the context of societal issues. It is part of a larger study that includes assessing the effectiveness of the materials to improve student content learning and attitudes towards socially relevant issues. Eight faculty members from a range of institution types, class sizes, and course foci participated in a three-semester-long research study designed to test the efficacy of replacing up to half of their existing geoscience course content with InTeGrate materials. Instructors documented instruction-related reflections and collected pre- and post-semester student performance and attitudinal data. They found that the immersive, data-rich activities were adjustable to fit their specific curricular and logistical needs and could be readily updated to incorporate current events. Read more...
  • Detailed stories (Bruckner et al., 2017) created by participants are available online and contain preparation tips, activity duration, modifications, and student reactions to activities.

Investigative Classroom Science: A Cure for National Skepticism of Science

RUSS COLSON, Minnesota State University– Moorhead, MARY COLSON, Horizon Middle School, Moorhead, MN. Russ and Mary Colson are coauthors of the NSTA Press book, Learning to Read the Earth and Sky.

"PEOPLE TRUST SCIENCE. SO WHY DON'T THEY BELIEVE IT?" This news headline from the summer of 2017 (Dastagir, 2017) presents an interesting dichotomy: belief in particular aspects of science may not arise from a trust of science in general. Likewise, belief may not arise from a knowledge of the theories or a strong scientific reasoning ability (Kahan et al., 2012). Science constructs knowledge through empirical observation and reasoning, and any "belief" of science must rest on connecting models to observations. Often students don't make that connection. When I (Mary) ask my students why they believe a fact or conclusion is true, students often reply either "You told us" or "I read it online." When I ask them for the evidence given for a claim in a scientific article, they often cite contextual evidence in the writing, invoking the authority of the writer, rather than observational evidence reported in the article. Although science teachers often shun the word "belief," fearing its perceived association with faith, it's important to engage with the distinction between the ability to explain models and theories and the belief that those models and theories accurately describe reality. We argue here that beliefs about science may be changed if we help students navigate the messiness of doing science to discover some scientific theories for themselves. Read more...

Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Awards for 2018

Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Awards (OEST) are given for "exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth sciences at the pre-college level." Any teacher or K-12 educator who covers a significant amount of Earth science content with his or her students is eligible. Ten national finalists are selected, one from each NAGT regional section. Some sections also recognize state winners. The OEST Awards program is designed to identify excellence in teaching, recognize and reward excellence in teaching, stimulate higher levels of teaching performance, establish NAGT as a strong support organization for pre-college education, and, via active statewide and sectional programs, build a solid state, regional, and national liaison with administrators of pre-college Earth science education.

Read all about the 2018 winners on the NAGT OEST Awards webpage

NAGT, GSA, GEO-CUR, Totten, Stout, & JGE Education Division Awards for 2018

NAGT Awards for 2018:

The Miner Award, given for outstanding contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth sciences, was awarded to Rachel Beane of Bowdoin College, Maine.

The Shea Award, given to honor individuals for exceptional writing or editing of Earth science materials of interest to the general public and/or teachers of Earth science, was awarded to Callan Bentley of Northern Virginia Community College.

The Christman Award, given in recognition of those who have provided distinguished service to NAGT at the national and/or section level, was awarded to David Mogk of Montana State University.

The Stout Professional Development Grants were awarded to the following:

Russel Korhs of Lord Fairfax Community College and Massanutten Regional Governor's School, Mount Jackson, VA, to fund field study in New York and to create resources to help students

Jill Weaver of Valley View Junior High, Farmersville, OH, to bring the volcanic experience into the classroom

Sara Young of Waubonsie Valley High School, Aurora, IL, to fund field study in Hawaii

Journal of Geoscience Education Awards for 2018:

The JGE Award for Outstanding Paper was awarded to David A. McConnell, Leeanna Chapman, C. Douglas Czajka, Jason P. Jones, Katherine D. Ryker, & Jennifer Wiggen for their paper "Instructional Utility and Learning Efficacy of Common Active Learning Strategies," JGE: November 2017, Vol. 65, No. 4, pp. 604-625.

The JGE Award for Outstanding Reviewer was awarded to Glenn Dolphin of the University of Calgary

Geological Society of America Awards for 2018:

The Biggs Award, GSA's award for excellence in Earth science teaching by undergraduate faculty who have been teaching full-time for 10 years of fewer, was awarded to Nicole LaDue of Northern Illinois University.

The Totten Geoscience Education Research Award, given in recognition of outstanding research emerging from the geoscience education, geocognition, or related fields, was awarded to Caitlin K. Kirby (faculty awardee) of Michigan State University.

GEO-CUR Award for 2018:

The Geo-CUR Award, given in recognition of outstanding undergraduate research mentoring, was awarded to Colin Laroque of the University of Saskatchewan.

ONLINE EXTRA: Testing Models through Personal Observation: Phases of the Moon

By Russ Colson, Minnesota State University-Moorhead, and Mary Colson, Horizon Middle School, Moorhead MN

You know the accepted model for the phases of the Moon, but do you know why you believe it? Helping students connect scientific models to underpinning observations is at least as important as teaching them to understand and explain the models. The lesson outlined in this article encourages students to think about how they can test the accepted model for phases of the Moon. This is a model first developed in antiquity and based on observations that any of us can make. This lesson can be appended to a more traditional exploration of the model for phases of the Moon. It engages students in making personal observations to test the validity of the model and in arguing on the basis of their own observations whether the model is correct. This lesson is divided into four conceptually-simple steps whose complexity can be tailored to the age and ability of the students. It can take anywhere from three to ten class periods plus a 1-month period for watching the Moon outside of class. Read More...

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