October 2017 Spotlight: LeeAnna Chapman

The October 2017 GER Spotlight is Dr. LeeAnna Chapman, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental and Ocean Sciences at the University of San Diego. In her profile, she describes her unique interdisciplinary background and ways to incorporate discipline-based education research (DBER) research in a non-research position.

What is your background?
I have very interdisciplinary training. My bachelor's degree is in natural resources ecosystems assessment. I obtained a master's degree in Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Science involving atmospheric science research focusing on earth systems modeling using GIS. Lastly, my PhD in Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Science involved research focusing on geoscience education.

What is the focus of your current geoscience education research?
My doctoral work at NC State involved a longitudinal mixed-methods experimental design including surveys, short interviews, and longer case study interviews to: a) collect information on the teaching beliefs of geoscience graduate students and post-doctoral scholars; and b) identify experiences that contributed to the development of reformed teaching beliefs and their interest in an academic career. This work involved evaluating a mix of qualitative and quantitative data (surveys, interviews and case studies) that targeted more than 600 graduate students and post-docs across the country. Results from the first phase were resently published; I am still in the process of publishing the rest of this work.

What does GER look like at your institution, in your position?
I currently work in the Department of Environmental and Ocean Sciences at the University of San Diego. My department does not currently have any DBER researchers. I was hired as a full-time geoscience teaching faculty member- meaning my job has no expectation of research. However, I have discussed DBER research options with my department chair and other colleagues and they are very receptive and supportive. After I was hired to teach geoscience courses (I began less than a month ago), I just kept mentioning how educational research could strengthen our department and courses. I've found that most geoscience faculty simply aren't aware of DBER research. Once they learn more, they are just as excited about the opportunities.

What is your advice for someone who is interested in starting out in geoscience education research (GER) or scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL)?
Attend a meeting to meet current DBER researchers. From my experience, the Earth Educators' Rendevous and Geological Socity of America conferences are awesome places to meet others and learn about what they do. Our community is very excited to have newbies and happy to help out!

What is your advice for an early career geoscience education researcher?
As a very early career geoscience researcher (I finished my PhD in May), my advice is to not get discouraged about the limited amount of DBER career opportunities. Spend time looking for positions you would enjoy and departments that seem receptive to incorporating new research and teaching methods into the current curriculum. Once you find a job, you can begin to incorporate DBER research a bit at a time. Once your colleagues see the possibilities, you may find they encourage you to incorporate DBER research into your work!

Learn more about LeeAnna Chapman's work on her faculty website, https://www.sandiego.edu/cas/environmental-ocean-sciences/faculty-and-staff/biography.php?profile_id=5289