Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures


Inquiry-Based Strategies for Teaching Earth Science In a Nontraditional Teacher Education Program

Event Name/Location

2008 Joint Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM, Houston, Texas, October 5-9, 2008

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



he author reports on the final evaluation of a curriculum revision project to update and revise materials and pedagogical approach for an online introductory earth science course. Union Institute & University uses guided-independent study pedagogy, developed in the 1960s, for all courses offered in their undergraduate programs. We have found, however, that our independent learning model is not an effective learning strategy for most of our students. Instead, our students achieve better results with a hybrid approach combining face-to-face meetings with the low-residency model, supported by an online course platform. Our target audience is primarily elementary education majors who plan to teach in the urban school districts of Florida's Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Plans for revisioning this course centered on adaptation of course materials developed by faculty at San Francisco State University and adoption of a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) strategy for all learning activities. During adaptation, content experts worked collaboratively with students and education faculty to ensure that lessons were relevant and standards-based. To ensure that course design was consistent with best practices in online education, content experts worked with instructional technology (IT) staff in the design and testing phase. Course activities were strengthened with new software, presentation equipment, and field experiences. Faculty and IT staff attended professional development workshops at the Institute for Transforming Undergraduate Education at the University of Delaware, a recognized leader in PBL and other inquiry-based learning strategies. The author will present project results including evaluative data on learning and best practices in online education in the geosciences.


© Copyright 2008 The Geological Society of America (GSA), all rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to the author(s) of this abstract to reproduce and distribute it freely, for noncommercial purposes. Permission is hereby granted to any individual scientist to download a single copy of this electronic file and reproduce up to 20 paper copies for noncommercial purposes advancing science and education, including classroom use, providing all reproductions include the complete content shown here, including the author information. All other forms of reproduction and/or transmittal are prohibited without written permission from GSA Copyright Permissions.

Additional Comments

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 40, No. 6, p.184

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