|Abstract||Fifteen graduate students completed a graduate seminar course in spring 2011 at NC State University. The course was designed to improve the scholarship of teaching and learning in the geosciences for geoscience and education graduate students. Many of the latter were in-service K-12 science teachers, while the others were graduate students with experience as Teaching Assistants but little formal training in teaching. This study documents the experiences of geoscience graduate students, many of whom share a career goal to become STEM professors.
The seminar was an in-depth investigation of many topics usually covered in STEM educator workshops. Material discussed included identifying misconceptions and other barriers to learning in college geoscience courses, how to effectively use active learning techniques, establishing learning objectives and measuring learning outcomes, as well as other topics such as student affect and self-regulation. Exposure to these topics over the course of one semester was more effective than getting the information in bits and pieces through infrequent workshops. One of the more useful, if unexpected, benefits of learning teaching methods in this setting was learning from the K-12 teachers who knew the trials and tribulations of implementing active learning techniques in a real classroom. Two semester-long projects, designing a lesson plan from scratch and designing a geoscience education research project, were particularly useful at prompting thoughts about implementing effective teaching strategies in future courses and synthesizing material learned over the semester. Learning about and experiencing first-hand a plethora of active learning techniques demonstrated the benefits of teaching courses that deemphasize lecture and emphasize a student-centered learning environment. Our experience in this course significantly reshaped our approaches to teaching, both as teaching assistants and future professors. Data was collected qualitatively through conversations with other graduate students during and after the course. Our analysis/evaluation has focused on contrasting the before and after views on these topics, with the goal of describing how we underwent these changes by taking the course.