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Role of TCOE in Geoscience Education
About TCOE

Elements of Geoscience Education

In recent years several geoscience communities have been developing ocean, climate, atmosphere and earth science literacy frameworks as enhancements to the National Science Education Standards content standards. Like the older content standards these new geoscience literacy frameworks have focused on K-12 education although they are also intended for informal education and general public audiences.

These geoscience literacy frameworks potentially provide a more integrated and less abstract approach to science literacy that may be more suitable for non-science major students that are not pursuing careers in science research or education. They provide a natural link to contemporary environmental issues - e.g., climate change, resource depletion, species and habitat loss, natural hazards, pollution, development of renewable energy, material recycling. 


1. How can these geoscience literacy frameworks promote more collaborative inquiry-based learning that enhances the appreciation of scientific thinking by non-majors?

- the scientific understanding embodied in the geoscience literacy frameworks comes primarily from the geoscience research community; science majors seek membership in that community
- since the geoscience literacy frameworks attempt to define what a science literate citizen should know about geoscience, they may provide guidance for the creation of geo-science-focused science courses for non-majors;
- the content of these non-major courses may be derived from the related K-12 learning resources; however these courses should emphasize the process of collaboration and inquiry in science – as exemplified by geoscience -  and not the detailed content of the science itself
- by their nature, the geosciences lend themselves to hands-on field activities and to practical application to contemporary issues
- for non-major students, the undergraduate non-major science survey course  acts as their final formal science education experience; it should stimulate their continued interest and understanding of science through their experiences in informal education and as a citizen.


2. How can web- and mobile-based education technologies transform the undergraduate non-major science survey course into a place where learners begin their passion for science literacy rather than end it?

- classroom and laboratory instruction binds the experience of the course content to the artificial confines of a controlled built environment
- introducing online resources – including visualizations of data sets, simulations, policy discussions and news stories – into the classroom helps non-majors develop skills in assessing the kinds of science-oriented material they will see after they leave college – hence maintaining and enhancing their science literacy
- field experiences provide for place-based learning - with learners developing an embodied understanding of natural processes and, through field observation and data collection, an appreciation for the process of conducting science  


 3. How do we assess science literacy in students and citizens?

- the issue of assessment for science literacy is being actively discussed by the various geoscience communities after the development of the geoscience literacy frameworks and their dissemination as brochures and downloads (see website below)
- all agree that simply understanding the content is not sufficient for science literacy;  science literate individuals need to be able to communicate this content to others and to make informed and responsible decisions based on it
- non-major learners should not be assessed on their ability to “do” science but rather on their ability to gather and assimilate scientific and technical information from public sources and to assess its significance to personal and public issues
-  assessment tools should relate to international / longitudinal surveys, such as OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) ‘s  Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)