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Enhancing Nebraska 6-12 Teachers' Knowledge of Earth Science Content

Research Team

Principal Investigator: Mindi Searls

Co-Principal Investigators: Beth Lewis, Leilani Arthurs

Funding Information

Funding Agency: Nebraska's Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education (CCPE)

Award Date: Feb 3, 2014

End Date: Dec 15, 2015


Although Earth science is a major component of the Nebraska State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, few K–12 educators have a background or certification in the Earth sciences. It is common for educators with strengths in other science disciplines to teach Earth science, especially in rural communities. 

This study focuses on professional development in the field of Earth science in order to target these deficiencies. Two workshops will provided each year — one for the rural communities, one for the urban area. A systems approach will be used to frame discussions and activities. 

In the first year, the study will focus on the hydrosphere; in the second year, the focus will be on the geosphere. As long-term professional development is more effective at inspiring change than short workshops, two follow-up sessions will be conducted for each cohort during which participants will report on how they have used the information and materials acquired from the summer, share ideas with their workshop cohort and receive feedback from the workshop facilitators. 

Objectives for the workshop are to:

  1. Enhance teacher content knowledge in the Earth systems science.
  2. Increase teacher self-efficacy regarding teaching of Earth science.
  3. Develop a broader range of inquiry-based instruction in 6–12 grade science classrooms.

Academic Intervention & Learning

Teachers participate in the Earth Science Institute 2015 at Cedar Point Biological Station near Ogallala, Nebraska.
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