Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Journal of Geoscience Education, 56 (5), 445-464.


Copyright © 2008 NAGT; used by permission.


Secondary geoscience education has its roots in geography and physiographic education from the turn of the 20th century. High school Earth science reached a peak during the late 1960s and 1970s, after plate tectonic theory revolutionized geology. The production of Earth science teachers, unlike biology teachers, has never reached full capacity, which has likely contributed to the lesser presence and status of Earth and space science in U.S. high schools today. Historically, the geoscience community has focused on enriching teachers' geoscience content knowledge, but modern Earth and space science teachers need more than just content knowledge.

Based on current science education research, today's Earth and space science teacher education programs should also include: a) science methods that embrace authentic inquiry and state-of-the-art technology and visualization resources, b) an exploration of formative assessment and how to modify instruction to meet students' learning needs, c) awareness of common misconceptions and strategies to affect conceptual change, and d) how to establish scientific classroom discourse communities to promote scientific literacy. However, geoscience education researchers should prioritize investigations of Earth and space science teacher preparation programs as very little is known about the relationship between such programs, teacher implementation, and student learning.