Hello Geoscience Ed Community,

I am writing to you to call your attention to a session I am co-chairing at the upcoming GSA Annual Meeting in October.  

The session is T247. Mitigating Geologic Blindness: What Are You Doing in Your Introductory Geology Course?

What ARE we teaching in introductory geology, and why does it matter? Changing introductory geology students' attitudes and improving conceptual understanding is vital to recruit more geoscience majors and help address critical socio-scientific issues.  I am hoping you will be able to share what you do in your introductory classes, and any formal and informal research and data you have collected as it pertains to your course. The full rationale is below.  Abstracts are due by 11:59 pm (PT) on August 4.

If you have any questions regarding this session, please do not hesitate to contact me.  On behalf of my session co-chair, Richard Jones of University of Hawaii West Oahu, thank you and we look forward to hearing from you and seeing and sharing what innovations are taking place. Cheers!

Climate change, alternative energy sources, fracking, mineral and water resources, natural disasters; these are the challenges our society must face and meet. They all require an understanding of geology, and geology is the meta-science that can be used to investigate and pose solutions to these challenges. But many introductory geology students may not be aware of the connection of geology and these issues and to themselves. With limited K-12 earth science programs across the US, many students may enter an introductory geology class by viewing it as a viable alternative to chemistry, biology or physics, but still not be aware of what geology is or what geologists do, when they are in the presence of a geologic feature, or how geologic processes and cycles impact them. What are we doing in our introductory geology classes to provide these learners with a new lens to understand the geologic world they encounter in their daily lives? How are we making this course a meaningful, accessible, and impactful learning experience that last beyond the end of the semester? This session invites instructors of introductory geology to share strategies for teaching - whether formally researched with quantitative or qualitative data, or informal action research: what topics do you teach and why? What is your order of topics in the course and why? What do you do to transform your lecture into an active learning zone? And what inquiry-based, problem-based learning labs or placed-based, culturally relevant activities do you use that improves critical thinking and argumentation skills? Student affect the attitudes, motivation, self-efficacy, and values that they place on a course like introductory geology can be dependent on our pedagogical choices. This can lead students out of their inability to relate to, appreciate, and understand the impact geology has on their world, as well as serve as a vital source of recruitment into the major, so that our society can finds solutions to the above-listed challenges.

Christopher Roemmele, PhD.
Assistant Professor
Department of Earth and Space Sciences 
225 Merion Science Center
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383