Edge, a project of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, is another important mechanism to help faculty stay abreast of geosciences research and teaching methods. According to the website (see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/about.html):

The workshop series and website combine to provide professional development opportunities, resources, and opportunities for faculty to interact online and in person with colleagues around the world who are focused on improving their teaching. An integral aspect of the project is development of an expanding community of geoscience educators with a strong and diverse leadership.

In all, 20 percent of geosciences faculty in the United States have participated in On the Cutting Edge, and 46 percent know about the program (Manduca, 2008a). Faculty from a wide variety of institutions, including R1 institutions, participate. Manduca said the workshop has legitimized teaching as a topic of discussion, oriented disciplinary research networks toward education, and created a culture of sharing information and resources.

Given that geosciences faculty turn to their colleagues for information on teaching, Manduca explained that departments are the most proximal source of support or discouragement for changes in practice. Departments are also important leverage points because they sit at the intersection of the institutional and disciplinary cultures described above. Acknowledging the importance of departments, Manduca described the Building Strong Geoscience Departments Program, which is designed to strengthen discussions of departmental issues in the disciplinary communities.5 According to Manduca (2008b), early data indicate that “this effort can claim to have developed a community within the discipline that is discussing depart mental issues and sharing their collective wisdom internally. The results of this work have demonstrably raised the level of discussion of accreditation. It cannot yet claim to be reaching the majority of departments” (p. 11).

5

For more detailed information, see the workshop paper by Manduca (see http://www.nationalacademies.org/bose/Manduca_CommissionedPaper.pdf).



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