Education Research

Characterizing the Accessibility Climate in the Department of Geological Sciences (2016 – present)

Geology and earth science are fields that by their very nature often require students and researchers to go out “in the field,” which simply means they go collect data outside. Unfortunately, particularly at the undergraduate level, the enrollment of students with physical disabilities in introductory geology courses is below what would be expected based on school-wide demographics. We think this is in part because field work is such a large component of geology and earth sciences, and students with physical disabilities are often excluded from participating in field work. Megan R.M. Brown and I are co-PIs formally characterizing the “Accessibility Climate” in our own department through both qualitative and quantitative data. Using that data, we are developing strategies and programs to increase inclusion of students with physical disabilities and provide a more equitable educational experience.

Increasing Inclusion and Retention in Undergraduate Geology Labs Through Targeted TA Training (2017 – present)

We (Megan R.M. Brown and myself) have preliminary data from “Characterizing the Accessibility Climate in the Department of Geological Sciences” which shows that teaching assistants (TAs) in our department felt that there was a problem with low enrollment of students with disabilities, agreed in general that some of our labs are not accessible, but reported having little knowledge of how to tackle these issues on their own. As a response, we are piloting a program in Fall 2017 to provide additional training and resources to all new TAs. We are assessed the effectiveness of our training in AY 17-18, and will be writing up our results for publication soon.

Teaching the Hydrologic Cycle Through Digital Game-Based Learning (2018 – present)

The freshwater hydrologic cycle is an incredibly important concept for majors and non-majors alike to understand. However, the freshwater hydrologic cycle spans wide spatial and temporal scales and previous studies have shown that issues of scale are particularly challenging for undergraduates to grasp. I am testing whether using digital games will help improve attitude toward earth science, knowledge about the hydrologic cycle and scale, and the retention of that knowledge.

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