Fairmont State University (FSU) and the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey (WVGES) provided a small pilot group of West Virginia science teachers with a professional development session designed to mimic experiences obtained by geology majors during a typical summer field camp. Called GEOTECH, the program served as a research capstone event complimenting the participants' multi-year association with the RockCamp professional development program. GEOTECH was funded through a Improving Teacher Quality Grant administered by West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. Over the course of three weeks, eight GEOTEACH participants learned field measurement and field data collection techniques which they then applied to the construction of a surficial geologic map. The program exposed participants to authentic scientific processes by emphasizing the authentic scientific application of content knowledge. As a secondary product, it also enhanced their appreciation of the true nature of science in general and geology particular. After the session, a new appreciation of the effort involved in making a geologic map emerged as tacit knowledge ready to be transferred to their students. The program was assessed using pre/post instruments, cup interviews, journals, artifacts (including geologic maps, field books, and described sections), performance assessments, and constructed response items. Evaluation of the accumulated data revealed an increase in participants demonstrated use of science content knowledge, an enhanced awareness and understanding of the processes and nature of geologic mapping, positive dispositions toward geologic research and a high satisfaction rating for the program. These findings support the efficacy of the experience and document future programmatic enhancements.
Additional publication details
Teachers doing science: An authentic geology research experience for teachers