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Evolution of Field-based Education for Geology Majors Into Place-based Education for K-12 Teachers

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Abstract or Description

Field-based learning is embraced at Georgia Southern University as an emphasis applied to courses for geology majors for over 40 years and to teacher education programs for over 30 years. Building upon this foundation of field education for geology majors in geology courses, we transferred the concepts to in-service education majors. From limited summer teacher workshops coupling lectures to field site visits, a comprehensive field-intensive program evolved to strengthen the capability and knowledge content of middle school science teachers. Courses integrated lecture, lab and field-based learning, providing teachers with education in physical geology and fundamentals of historical geology, supported by collections of minerals, rocks, ores and fossils. These materials, collected by the teachers for use in their classrooms, were tied to regional geology and supplemented with maps, posters, field guides and textbooks. The St. Catherines Island Sea Turtle program developed concurrently as part of that program, and in 2009, marks 19 years of integrating "Conservation, Research, and Education" in a program that conserves loggerhead sea turtles and incorporates modeling and practice of field science, technology integration, and pedagogy through student-centered activities. Fourteen teacher-interns per summer investigate loggerhead ecology, human history, and geologic evolution of St. Catherines Island, practice journaling in experiential place-based inquiry-based learning, make abundant digital images for use in their teaching, and make natural history collections for their classrooms. New skills, knowledge and collections enhance teaching units on sea turtles or other endangered species or habitats that are developed in a spring follow up course to match curriculum needs of each student's classroom. Field and instructional technologies are integrated for regular use, including GPS, thermal data loggers, temperature and moisture probes, ground radar, photography, websites and pod casts, plus note taking and field sketching. Geologists, education professors, experienced teacher mentors, and local content experts collaborate to produce one of the most successful teacher education programs in Georgia with respect to continuity of funding and positive teacher and programmatic feedback.


Geological Society of America Annual Meeting


Portland, OR