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Showcase December 2015: The 2015 first annual Earth Educators' Rendezvous, Boulder CO, July 13-17

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The 2015 first annual Earth Educators' Rendezvous, Boulder CO, July 13-17

Thomas F. Shipley

Temple University

Figure 1

The Earth Educators' Rendezvous brought together researchers and practitioners working in all aspects of undergraduate Earth education. Faculty who were interested in improving their teaching about the Earth, a few administrators from geoscience departments, and education researchers joined the Rendezvous for 2 or 3 days or stayed the whole week.

The Rendezvous program was designed to foster conversations to allow the community to address the interrelated challenges faced by undergraduate Earth Education. Six themes were identified:

  • ♦ developing students' higher order geoscientific skills, from data analysis to critical thinking to effective communication
  • ♦ increasing the number and diversity of students who learn about Earth
  • ♦ collaborating with colleagues across the disciplines to situate learning about Earth in a societal context
  • ♦ supporting current and future teachers in successfully implementing the Next Generation Science Standards
  • ♦ preparing competitive graduates who move easily into and within the broad and changing geoscience workforce
  • ♦ pursuing education research that supports our ability to address these challenges
  • (from http://serc.carleton.edu/earth_rendezvous/2015/overview.html)

Figure 2
Note: this image is offered under a Creative Commons license. Url for the page on which the image was found: http://serc.carleton.edu/earth_rendezvous/2015/overview.html.

The Earth Rendezvous program consisted of workshops, contributed talks and posters, plenary sessions, and working groups. Of note to Showcase readers, one morning workshop focused on developing a programmatic approach to geosciences education research. Here the value of developing deep collaborations between earth sciences instructors, education researchers and cognitive scientist was clear. Studying the complex spatial thinking problems that confront geosciences students has much to offer the cognitive scientist interested in the mind’s spatial reasoning potential. The cognitive scientist, who is skilled in application of learning theory, assessment, and testing has much to contribute to the goal of transforming science education. SILC’s Tim Shipley ran a workshop on statistical methods. The workshop discussion focused on basic statistical concepts, tests, and types of errors, as well as failure of replicate. He noted that all of the attendees had data they desired to analyze or a new instructional idea they were excited to test.

A highlight of the conference were the plenary talks which were started off by SILC’s PI, Nora Newcombe, who spoke on Evidence-based teaching in the earth sciences. The talk reviewed the current understanding of cognitive science of learning and was well received by a large crowd. The other plenaries, on diversifying science by John Matsui, teaching controversial issues with a panel of fracking experts, and systems science by Daniel Wildcat, were all excellent talks and well attended. The rendezvous crowd was interested to hear about education research, and for those thinking of getting involved, note this from the town hall at the end of the rendezvous: “the Rendezvous [is a] great place for people new to geoscience education research to present and learn.”

If your interest is piqued, here's a link to next year's program: http://serc.carleton.edu/earth_rendezvous/2016/program.html (of particular note is the workshop on Spatial Reasoning in the Geosciences to be led by Eric Riggs and SILC’s Carol Ormand).

To quote from the 2015 call, “meeting attendees will have the opportunity to learn broadly, focus on a particular issue or challenge, or something in between. All are invited to submit abstracts to the contributed program of posters and short presentations.”

If you are interested here's how you can submit abstracts for the 2016 program: http://serc.carleton.edu/earth_rendezvous/2016/contributed_program.html

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