An integrated field-based approach to building teachers' geoscience skills

Heather Almquist, George Stanley, Lisa Blank, Marc Hendrix, Megan Rosenblatt, Seymour Hanfling, Jeffrey Crews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The Paleo Exploration Project was a professional development program for K-12 teachers from rural eastern Montana. The curriculum was designed to incorporate geospatial technologies, including Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and total station laser surveying, with authentic field experiences in geology and paleontology in an effort to enhance teachers' abilities to incorporate geospatial technologies and inquiry-based approaches into their classrooms. The program included preparatory weekend workshops for teachers and week-long summer research institutes for teachers and students, in which core geosciences skills were practiced in the field. These skills included (1) geology-related spatial visualization, (2) understanding absolute geologic time, including the concepts of physical and temporal correlation of stratigraphic units, (3) actualistic thinking, or the ability to interpret ancient environments through comparison with modern ones, (4) geological field strategies and techniques, and (5) scientific reasoning. Teachers responded very positively to the program, and nearly all went on to create, implement, and enhance their own technology-embedded, inquiry-based projects with their own students over the following two years. Intense preparation for the field experience, including building teacher content knowledge, technology skills, and field techniques, as well as the field-based approach, combining GIS as a visualization tool with field-based examination of geologic features, metacognitive reflection, and working with students in the field, were considered key elements of the program's success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-40
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011


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