GEOCOGNITION & GEOSCIENCE EDUCATION RESEARCH PROGRAMS

Alphabetical List of Graduate Programs in Geocognition and Geoscience Education Research: Includes United States and New Zealand

Updated: 03/2017

Programs Housed in Colleges of Science

Arizona State University: MS/PhD, Steve Semken, Steve Reynolds
Graduate students in Geoscience Education at ASU benefit from a long-standing and productive collaboration among research faculty and students in its internationally respected:

The geologically, culturally, and historically rich Southwest offers a superb setting for studies of formal and informal teaching and learning, and ASU graduates the most STEM teachers of any university in the region. Current active research areas include place-based and cross-cultural geoscience teaching and learning; spatial visualization, figures, and animations in geoscience learning; geoscience teaching and learning in virtual environments; cultural validation of assessments; interpretation and informal learning in National Parks; concept sketches for learning and assessment; Native American ethnogeology; and strategic preparation of Earth-science teachers.

Auburn University: MS/PhD, Karen McNeal
Geoscience education research in the Department of Geosciences is part of Auburn University’s discipline-based education research initiative housed in the College of Science and Mathematics. The Department of Geosciences currently offers an MS in Geosciences and in Fall 2018 the Department will launch the Interdisciplinary Earth System Science PhD degree, offering geoscience education specialists an array of opportunities for completing their coursework and research leveraging access to multiple colleges on campus. The geoscience education and geocognition research group at Auburn focuses on a variety of topics including, but not limited to, learning in introductory courses and the use of active learning approaches, the testing of technologies in the classroom (e.g., augmented and virtual reality), people’s knowledge and perceptions of global change, psychomotor (e.g., eye-tracking and skin biosensors) responses to an intervention or stimuli, and the understanding of student conceptual models and skills, such as spatial thinking and graph reading, as they apply to the geosciences.

California State University – Fullerton: MS, Natalie Bursztyn
Graduate students can earn an MS in Geology with an emphasis in science education. Current research efforts include app design, Earth Science curriculum development, the AR sandbox, the EM River stream table, and research in National Parks. Cal State – Fullerton also offers a BA in Earth Sciences that has a future science teachers track. Contact Natalie Bursztyn (nbursztyn@Exchange.FULLERTON.EDU) for more information.

Eastern Michigan University: MS, Katherine Ryker
Graduate students can earn an MS in Earth Science specializing in geoscience education. Current research efforts explore connections between reformed classroom practices, student learning, teaching beliefs and the implementation of inquiry-based labs in introductory Earth science lectures and labs. Additional topics include online educational resources, pre-service teacher identity development, and student learning strategies and engagement in large introductory courses. Eastern Michigan also offers undergraduate degrees in Earth Science Education through the Geography and Geology department. Contact Katherine Ryker (kryker@emich.edu) for more information.

Florida International University: MS/PhD, Kathy Quardokus Fisher
The Department of Earth and Environment at Florida International University offers a PhD in Earth Systems Science and MS in Geosciences with the possibility of research topics in the area of Geosciences Education. Kathy Quardokus Fisher’s research focuses on the teaching and learning of the geosciences (primarily Atmospheric Science) at the postsecondary level and the design and implementation of educational change initiatives. Graduate students in this area are also invited to join the community of DBER graduate students from 6 STEM departments as part of the STEM Transformation Institute at FIU.

Michigan State University: MS/PhD, Julie Libarkin
Graduate students in the Geocognition Research Lab can earn an MS or PhD in Geological Sciences through cutting-edge research that blurs the boundaries between cognitive science, education, and geoscience, including investigation of working memory (NSF-0815930 abstract), novice-expert conceptions (NSF-0837185 abstract), and assessment instrument development (NSF-0717790 abstract). Potential coursework in geoscience, education, psychology, political science and other areas offers opportunities to build multidisciplinary expertise through programs such as the Cognitive Science Program and the Environmental Science & Policy Program. Contact Julie Libarkin (libarkin@msu.edu) for more information.

Mississippi State University: MS/PhD, Renee Clary, Brenda Kirkland, Kathy Sherman-Morris
The Department of Geosciences at Mississippi State University offers both a MS in Geosciences and a PhD in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, with one possible concentration in Geoscience Education. The department is very broad, offering multiple research opportunities in the geoscience subdisciplines of Geology, Meteorology, GIS, and Geography. Geoscience education research focuses on geoscience learning in traditional, online, and informal educational environments. Three faculty members specialize in Geoscience education research: Renee Clary, Brenda Kirkland, and Kathy Sherman-Morris. Active geoscience education research within the department includes programs investigating effective teaching strategies, history and philosophy of science in geoscience teaching, geocognition and understanding of complex earth systems, and geoscience visualization strategies. Applications for MS, PhD, and postdoctoral levels in geoscience education are welcomed.

North Carolina State University: MS/PhD, David McConnell
Geoscience education research in the Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences (MEAS) is part of the North Carolina State University (NCSU) discipline-based teaching and learning initiative. MEAS offers both MS and PhD degrees with a focus on geoscience education research on a variety of topics including, but not limited to, the use of research-validated teaching strategies in introductory lecture and lab courses, the development of student learning processes, the relationship between teaching beliefs and practices, and professional development for graduate students and faculty.

Northern Colorado University: MA, Steven Anderson, Joe Elkins
The Earth Sciences department at Northern Colorado University offer both a B.S. and M.A. degree in Earth Sciences. Students have the option of studying in one of four emphasis areas: Environmental Science, Geology, Meteorology, and Secondary Education.

Northern Illinois University: MS/PhD, Nicole LaDue
The Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences at NIU offers opportunities to pursue MS and PhDs in geological sciences focusing on geoscience education or combining geologic research and geoscience education research. Current projects being explored in the Visualization and Geoscience Education Research (VGER) Lab focus on spatial thinking, student comprehension of geoscience visuals, spatial thinking, interest development, and broadening participation in geoscience (NSF-1445228 abstract). This work employs a mixed-methods approach (interviews, eye-tracking, and cognitive testing) to triangulate how students learn and are retained in the geosciences. Contact Nicole LaDue (nladue@niu.edu) for more information.

Texas A&M University
The College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University is a very large program offering a multitude of different degrees in the Geoscience field.

University of Canterbury, New Zealand: Ben Kennedy
In the Department of Geological Sciences, we offer thesis topics for Undergraduates, Geology MSc, and Geology PhDs in Geoscience Education. We are focused on two main science education objectives: a) investigating better ways to teach, learn and communicate geological information and b) to develop new and innovative classroom activities/resources to enhance the teaching of science (years 5-13) in New Zealand schools.  As a result of (a), the department will have dynamic learning environment, from which students graduate with a full set of desirable skills and a full awareness of the information age in which we live. We also offer students the opportunity to actively research and test new methods for learning and communicating through collaborations with the University of Canterbury’s Academic Development Group, the Human Interface Technology Lab, the College of Education and local Secondary Schools in Canterbury.  We have a focus on volcanology and hazard education  particularly targeting fieldwork, and simulations. Our schools programme not only provides background support to High School teachers (via UC’s Science Outreach Programme especially) but at the same time is involved with the design and delivery of curriculum-based initiatives that both empower teachers of science and engage their pupils. Our group continues to develop a series of 3D presentations and group-participation activities that explore aspects of science and the art-science interface.

University of South Florida: MS/PhD, Jeff Ryan, H.L. (Len) Vacher

University of Nebraska: MS/PhD, Leilani Arthurs
At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, students can pursue a Master’s degree and a PhD degree in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences with a specialization in Geoscience Education.  To learn more about these options, details are at http://eas.unl.edu/education

The Geocognition Research for Advancing Science Communication and Education (GRASCE) Lab conducts research in the area of geoscience education and geocognition.  This research is driven by the goals of: (i) furthering our understanding of how people learn most effectively in the geosciences; (ii) identifying conceptual challenges to learning Earth processes; (iii) increasing novice proficiency with scientific, analytical, and critical thinking skills; (iv) applying basic science education research to the design of instructional geoscience materials and pedagogical strategies; and (v) assessing the implementation of learner-centered instructional practices that facilitate deep learning. To learn more about GRASCE Lab, go to: https://sites.google.com/site/leilaniarthurs/grasce-program

Western Michigan University
Graduate students in geoscience education at WMU can earn a degree through The Mallinson Institute for Science Education (MISE) in collaboration with the Department of Geosciences. The MA program is designed for inservice teachers and can be completed largely through online coursework. The doctoral program has several tracks focusing on (1) college science teaching, (2) discipline-specific research and teaching, and (3) K-12 curriculum and instruction. We also offer a concurrent enrollment program (Masters in science discipline/ PhD Science Education). MISE is a nationally top-ranked program with 10 faculty and 15-20 full-time doctoral students. Research in geoscience/ earth science education focuses on geocognition; specifically, toward understanding the knowledge and skills that geoscientists use when working on complex, field-based problems. We study geoscientists engaged in field work across the spectrum from beginning students (novices) to professionals (experts), in order to determine how geological knowledge develops through training and practice. We are also interested in the preparation and development of K-12 earth science teachers, with an emphasis on field experiences and alternative conceptions.

Western Washington University: MS, Scott Linneman
Research focuses on teacher-scientist partnerships, field-based learning and the role of technology in geoscience instruction (NSF-0837820 abstract). MS program requires solid earth geoscience graduate coursework and science education research methodology and theory in collaboration with WWU’s Woodring College of Education.

Programs Housed in Colleges of Education

Arizona State University
See description in Colleges of Science list, above.

Purdue University: MS/PhD, Dan Shepardson, Jerry Krockover
Research focused on teaching and learning in K-12 settings and in teacher education. Programs are focused primarily on in-service teacher education and in environmental science education for pre- and in-service teachers, and K-12 students. Coursework includes the full range of Curriculum and Instruction core coursework coupled with offerings from the College of Science and the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences through the science education research group and the Center for Research and Engagement in Science and Mathematics Education.

University of Northern Iowa: MA, Kyle Gray
The science education program at the University of Northern Iowa offers a Master of Arts in Science Education with an emphasis in Earth science education. Research interests include misconceptions of Earth and Space Science topics as well as investigating ways to improve geocognition in undergraduate and K-12 students. Degree includes earning a 5-12 science teaching license.

University of Wyoming: MS/PhD, Tim Slater
The research agenda of the Cognition in Astronomy, Physics and Earth sciences Research (CAPER) Team is shaped by the framework of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) and reflects an intellectualization of what makes learning geoscience topics easy or difficult, how this changes with the pre-conceptions and spatial reasoning skills that learners carry with them, and how best to equip teachers and faculty to teach effectively geoscience.