Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Lewis, E.B. (in press, available on-line 9/8/14). Seeking research-enhanced geoscience outreach that complements subject knowledge with pedagogical expertise. Studies in Science Education. doi: 10.1080/03057267.2014.952154


Copyright © 2014, Elizabeth B. Lewis. Published by Taylor & Francis. Used by permission.


This new volume in Springer’s series on Innovations in Science Education and Technology, edited by Tong, provides a window into geoscience education outreach projects and programs developed and implemented by geoscientists for the public, schools, teachers and students, and community members. In his introduction, Tong advocates for geoscientists to employ a ‘research-enhanced outreach model’ versus a ‘research-dissemination model’, in which both scientific and educational research findings inform outreach to schools and the general public. Tong proposes a long-term goal of inclusiveness when building relationships among geoscientists, educational systems and programs, and the public in response to his own critique of historically restrictive, outreach activities, e.g. relying nearly exclusively upon public lectures. ...

We, the broader global community of scientists and science educators, often cite the necessity for scientific literacy for citizens in the hope that people will make better-informed choices for the environment, for sustainability and for healthier lives for people everywhere. Thus, outreach to various citizen groups is vitally important. This collection both provides carefully detailed examples of, and makes a strong case for, connecting children, teachers and the general public with geoscientists who are passionate about their work and can provide interesting, authentic, experiences within socio-scientific significant topics. But like the ratio of scientists to the public, there are fewer certified science teachers than scientists, and even fewer science education researchers than science teachers. In many ways some of the frustration that scientists feel towards the common scientific misconceptions held by the public about scientific concepts and practices, is reflected in how experts in science education feel similar frustration regarding misconceptions about learning, conceptual change and other educational issues held by scientists as well as in relation to their lack of understanding of how social science research is conducted. As a former geologist who became an Earth and space science teacher and then a science teacher educator and educational researcher, I can empathize with each perspective and set of concerns, and both are equally valid. In conclusion, I echo Tong’s plea, that not only does there need to be a better, more inclusive model for outreach, but also a more integrative model for encouraging and structuring communication among scientists and educational experts so that our mutual goals can be attained for a better-educated public and improved stewardship of the Earth.