Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version

March 2002


Published in Journal of Geoscience Education, v.50, n.2, March, 2002, p. 169-175. Copyright © 2002. Used by permission.


Many K-12 educators never experience active learning processes in their science courses that are part of their formal teacher preparation program because of the prevalence of the didactic teaching approach (lecture-read-answer) used in undergraduate science classrooms. From an educational perspective there are substantial benefits to experiencing the process of science through active learning strategies. A 16-week, one semester course entitled, “Earth Systems Science for Educators” has been designed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to use an active learning approach to improve student knowledge of basic Earth science concepts. To evaluate the extent to which their knowledge has improved, we developed a fairly simple assessment instrument, which consists of 38 statements in which the student responds true-false-“I do not know.” Based on pre- and post-course assessments of 108 elementary and middle-level education majors who took the class in 5 different semesters from 1998 to 2000, there was an average increase in their content knowledge of 30 percent.