Undergraduate Research in Earth Science Classes: Engaging Students in the First Two Years

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
David W Mogk, Montana State Univ, Bozeman, MT, United States, Michael Edward Wysession, Washington Univ, Saint Louis, MO, United States, Allison Beauregard, Northwest Florida State College, Niceville, FL, United States, Linda A Reinen, Pomona College, Claremont, CA, United States, Kathleen Surpless, Trinity University, Department of Geosciences, San Antonio, TX, United States, Kristin O'Connell, Carleton College, Science Education Resource Center, Northfield, MN, United States and John Robert McDaris, Carleton College, Northfield, MN, United States
The recent PCAST report (2012), Engage to Excel, calls for a major shift in instructional modes in introductory (geo)science courses by “replacing standard laboratory courses with discovery-based research courses”. An increased emphasis is recommended to engage students in experiments with the possibility of true discovery and expanded use of scientific research courses in the first two years. To address this challenge, the On the Cutting Edge program convened a workshop of geoscience faculty to explore the many ways that true research experiences can be built into introductory geoscience courses. The workshop goals included: consideration of the opportunities, strategies and methods used to provide research experiences for students in lower division geoscience courses; examination of ways to develop students’ “geoscience habits of mind” through participation in authentic research activities; exploration of ways that student research projects can be designed to contribute to public science literacy with applications to a range of issues facing humanity; and development of strategies to obtain funding for these research projects, to make these programs sustainable in departments and institutions, and to scale-up these programs so that all students may participate. Access to Earth data, information technology, lab and field-based instrumentation, and field experiences provide unprecedented opportunities for students to engage in authentic research at early stages in their careers. Early exposure to research experiences has proven to be effective in the recruitment of students to the geoscience disciplines, improved retention and persistence in degree programs, motivation for students to learn and increase self-efficacy, improved attitudes and values about science, and overall increased student success. Workshop outcomes include an online collection of tested research projects currently being used in geoscience classes, resources related to effective design, implementation and assessment of student research projects, and all workshop activities are posted on the website: http://serc.carleton.edu/74960