Science Education Resource Center (SERC)
I am Director of the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College where I am involved in a variety of projects that support improvements in undergraduate education and geoscience education (K-gray). My work includes organizing workshops and other activities for faculty and educators of all types, developing web-resources that link teaching resources, pedagogy and discussion, and researching learning by geoscientists, faculty and students. Topics of focus include bringing research results on teaching and learning into broader use in the geosciences, understanding geoscience expertise, and building strong geoscience departments. Much of this work contributes to the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT), and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL).
Currently, I serve on the AGU Outreach Committee, the Education Committee of the American Institute of Physics, the National Numeracy Network Board of Directors, and the advisory board for Gifted and Talented Education programs in my local school district. I am also the Executive Director of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers.
I remain very interested in the petrologic and structural evolution of western Idaho and its implications for the growth of continental crust, as well as the interactions between policy and geology required to maintain a clean water supply for Olmsted County, MN.
Cutting Edge part of Cutting Edge
The On the Cutting Edge project helps geoscience faculty stay up-to-date with both geoscience research and teaching methods through workshops and websites which combine to provide professional development opportunities, resources, and opportunities for faculty to interact with colleagues around the world.
Synthesis of Research on Thinking and Learning in the Geosciences part of Research on Learning:Synthesis Study
This project synthesizes existing knowledge and articulates unanswered questions in critical areas of research on cognition and learning relevant to the Geosciences.
Building Strong Geoscience Departments part of Building Strong Geoscience Departments
Building Strong Geoscience Departments is a project focused on helping geoscience departments adapt and prosper in a changing and challenging environment.
Pedagogy in Action part of Pedagogy in Action
A library of teaching methods, example activities and literature on research on learning.
Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience
This site is designed to help faculty and graduate students learn about instructional methods for teaching undergraduate entry-level geoscience, environmental science, or related courses.
Research on Learning in the Geosciences part of Research on Learning
This site has many important lessons that can improve teaching in the geosciences and brings together resources for faculty, teachers and curriculum developers working in the geosciences including
DLESE Community Services Center part of DLESE Community Services
The Digital Library for Earth Science Education Community Service Center seeks to increase and diversify the current resource user and contributor base, improve the ability of users and contributors to easily find, adapt, and effectively use high quality digital resources.
What could the President do? part of Earth and Mind:Posts
Earlier this month I was invited to attend a planning meeting for PCAST, the President's advisors on science and technology. They (via a subcommittee) are gearing up to write a report on STEM higher education, which will be a companion to their excellent piece on STEM K-12 education (my favorite parts of this are the emphasis on preparation and inspiration together, and the reminder that we do need to worry about high-achieving students). You can find the report here by scrolling down to K-12 STEM Education report. By way of introduction at the meeting, we were asked to provide three minutes of advice to the President as to how he could help improve STEM higher education and in particular the preparation of students for the STEM workforce. Here is my response. There were lots of people at the meeting who could speak to the general question, so I spoke from the point of view of helping faculty be better teachers.
Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) Pathway part of CLN:Climate Change Education Projects
http://cleanet.org/ National Science Foundation
Geoscience Departments at Risk part of Earth and Mind:Posts
The current shortfall in state budgets is making this a challenging time for geoscience departments (check out David Steer's insightful article predicting this trauma last year in the NAGT e-news, the recent article in the Jan 1, Science: Recession Hits Some Sciences Hard at Florida State University). The Building Strong Geoscience Department's project has been working for several years to help departments strengthen their programming, their internal management, and the relationship to the institution. Their website is full of good ideas. However, now I'm starting to hear about departments who are doing all of these good things and are still under threat. If being really good at what we do isn't enough, what is our next step? Three things come to mind
Writers are Made not Born part of Earth and Mind:Posts
Last fall while watching the new Ken Burns series on the history of our national parks, America's Best Idea, I was stunned to find out that John Muir didn't like to write. He is quoted in the documentary as saying words to the effect of 'A life of writing is like a glacier, endless grinding away' (I can't seem to find the exact quote on the internet -so if you have better luck let me know) Writing is tremendously important in academia. A friend of mine who has been a senior level administrator once commented to me that when faculty don't achieve tenure, sometimes it reflects that fact that they don't really like to write. I shuddered because I hated writing as a college student. Imagine my surprise when recently, contemplating the need to put together another blog, I realized that I really enjoy writing. Just as many people feel that they are born good or bad at math, I thought you were born good or bad at writing – and I was bad. What happened?
Systems Thinking part of Earth and Mind:Posts
I hope that everyone has seen Thomas Friedman's recent column The trajectory of three bombs (also published under 'The Threat of the Other Two Bombs: Debt and Climate Change'). Friedman describes the potential rapid swing from our current climate and debt regimes to fundamentally different states as equivalent to a nuclear explosion - a large magnitude event changing the world as we know it.
A Well Graded Trail part of Earth and Mind:Posts
This year we took the family backpack into the Spanish Peaks in Montana. Our first day was 9 miles and 3,000 feet with full packs- not much for a geologist who is in shape, but I'm a 51 year old slug who spends her days in the office. However, this all went much easier than anticipated because Montana has come to understand the value of switchbacks - something rarely found on the trails of western Idaho where I had been warming up for the trip. As I plodded along, I found myself thinking about the value of a well graded trail in supporting a sustained effort and wondering what we could learn from this about the way we pace our work. How do we create switchbacks in our professional lives that get us up the steep grades?
By Way of Introduction part of Earth and Mind:Posts
Blogging is mostly a new thing to me, my primary experience being reading my son's blogs while he was traveling in China. With that as background, my hopes for this blog are that that my posts will help you see the world differently and lighten your day. The motivation for the blog as a whole, which comes from Kim, is to explore new ways of sharing ideas about geoscience thinking and learning. I am totally enthusiastic about the idea. From my point of view, the blog is like a sketch book where we can explore and get feedback on ideas, some of which can become part of complete works. Like an artist who more completely explores ideas by sketching, I am hoping that I will more completely explore ideas by writing. From a community point of view, I hope that the ideas in the blog foster discussion that might not have taken place and lead to a richer community discussion that elevates ideas from all who are participating. Usually we develop our ideas alone or in very small groups, write them in papers, and hope for some written feedback in other people's papers. This is a long slow loop that I hope the blog can shortcut and expand. What will I write about?
Self-Reflections from the Field: Pressure Release Thinking part of Earth and Mind:Posts
One of my psychologist friends tells me that psychologists are very skeptical of individuals self reflections on their thinking. From their point of view most of the interesting action takes place beneath the surface of conscious thought in the sub-conscious. That said, one of the most interesting things about working on learning has been becoming more cognizant of my own thinking processes. I am happily entertained watching how I navigate, perceiving where my spatial skills are strong or weak, metacogniting on my metacognition, and cataloging my strengths and weaknesses as a thinker. I am also fascinated by the commonalities and differences with others and the ramifications of all of this on teaching and collaboration. One of the most important things I have learned about myself, which I expect applies to many others as well, is what I call pressure-release thinking. Just as mantle melts and releases magma when the pressure is reduced at a mid-ocean ridge, I find that I need to reduce the pressure on my mind for many of my best ideas to emerge.
Cathryn Manduca part of Reconsidering the Textbook:Participant Profiles
Cathryn Manduca -
RTOP Observers: PI
Chronos Participants: Leader
Research on Learning: Leader