Framework Scope and Audience

Intended Scope of the GER Framework

This project embraces a broad definition of GER that reflects the geoscience education community's values and the evolution of STEM education research. The geosciences have a long and rich history on the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), which involves the development, application, and evaluation of new geoscience teaching innovations and curricula. More recently, in the geosciences and in other STEM fields, there has been rapid growth in interest and activity in discipline-based education research (DBER), which develops and tests discipline-specific (i.e., geoscience) education research questions and hypotheses. Both SoTL and DBER are important for improving teaching and learning in the geosciences, and therefore both are included in the scope of GER for this project (Figure 6). Contributors to this project were asked to situate their thinking about GER to include both SoTL and DBER as they considered GER themes, grand challenges, and strategies to meet those challenges.

In addition, this project focuses on GER that informs future teaching and learning at the undergraduate level. We recognize that GER itself is broader than this; there are researchers that focus on pre-college, graduate level, and informal geoscience education, as well as those whose work is purely for the advancement of knowledge (non-applied) research. The project emphasis on undergraduate-related GER was made for two reasons: (1) the majority of GER activities as reflected in meeting abstracts, publications, and geoscience education workshops are largely undergraduate-focused, and (2) the NSF-IUSE program, which funded this project, targets improvement in undergraduate STEM education.

Organization of the GER Framework Chapters: Communicating to Multiple Audiences

In organizing the GER Framework chapters, we recognized the need to effectively reach multiple audiences: geoscience education researchers, geoscience educators, colleagues, administrators, program officers in funding agencies, as well as education researchers in other STEM disciplines. Therefore, theme chapters have two tiers of information: (1) an introductory page and (2) expanded pages for each grand challenge (Table 4). The aim of the introductory page is to help those outside of GER understand what we do, what we want to do, and why it is important. It includes a brief overview of that theme, and lists the grand challenges with brief descriptions; citations are kept at a bare minimum on that page and jargon is avoided. In contrast, the expanded pages on each grand challenge are for those who want to dive deeper. Each of these grand challenge pages can be accessed from the theme introductory page, and contain a more thorough rationale for why research to address that grand challenge is needed, and makes recommendations for immediate strategies to be used to address it. It includes a set of key references to support the rationale and strategies, however it is not intended to be a full literature review of all the work done thus far that inform that theme. Both the introductory page and the expanded grand challenge pages include one or more diagrams, tables or photos that help illustrate that challenge and/or strategies to address it.

In addition to the theme chapters, the GER Framework includes a synthesis chapter, which highlights strands that connect multiple themes (in some cases, all themes), which may serve as high impact pathways to achieve transformative research. It also describes the potential for using the GER Toolbox as a means to support a range of recommended strategies. The synthesis chapter compares the outcomes of this effort to that of earlier community efforts (e.g., Wingspread report) to give a longitudinal perspective on the evolution of GER. It looks outside of GER as well, to describe potential synergies between the outcomes of this project and that of other relevant and timely large-scale efforts, including the Summit on the Future of Undergraduate Geoscience Education and cross-DBER efforts; and it situates the outcomes of this project within the recent NSF report on big ideas for the future funding investment.

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