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Graduate Study in the GRL

Michigan State University: MS/PhD, Julie Libarkin, Duncan Sibley
Graduate students in the Geocognition Research Lab can earn an MS or PhD in Geological The GRL CrewSciences through cutting-edge research that blurs the boundaries between cognitive science, education and geoscience, including investigation of working memory (NSF-0815930 abstract), novice-expert conceptions (NSF-0837185 abstract), assessment instrument development (NSF-0717790 abstract) and analogies as reasoning tools. Potential coursework in geoscience, education, psychology, political science and other areas offers opportunities to build multidisciplinary expertise.

We encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, through specialization certification or joint graduate training with the:

Contact Julie Libarkin for more information.

Graduate Programs in Discipline-Based Education Research

A list of Biology Education Research graduate programs can be found at:

Programs Housed in Chemical Education

A list of Chemical Education graduate programs can be found at: http://www.users.muohio.edu/bretzsl/GradPrograms.html

- Alphabetical list of graduate programs in Geocognition and Geoscience Education Research
Updated: 10/2011
Programs Housed in Colleges of Science

Arizona State University: MS/PhD, Steve Semken, Steve Reynolds
Graduate students in Geoscience Education at ASU benefit from a long-standing and productive collaboration among research faculty and students in its internationally respected:

The geologically, culturally, and historically rich Southwest offers a superb setting for studies of formal and informal teaching and learning, and ASU graduates the most STEM teachers of any university in the region. Current active research areas include role of figures and animations in earth-science learning, place-based and cross-cultural geoscience learning, spatial visualization, informal learning in National Parks, concept sketches for learning and assessment, and strategic Earth science teacher preparation.


Kansas State University: MS, Iris Totten
The Geocognition Graduate Research Program (GGRP) at Kansas State University has two main foci: to identify and understand learning phenomenon in the geosciences and to develop and implement educational tools that enhance learning in the geosciences. We currently have research projects that involve: non-science undergraduates, geoscience majors (both UG and graduate), K-12 students, in-service and pre-service teachers, and university faculty. The GGRP is housed in the Master of Science in Geology program and includes 24 hours of course work (12-15 hrs geosciences; 9-12 hrs education) and 6 hours of thesis geocognition research. This program is ideal for students who are motivated by working on cross-disciplinary research problems.

Mississippi State University: MS/PhD, Karen McNeal, Renee Clary, Brenda Kirkland
The Department of Geosciences at Mississippi State University offers both a MS in Geosciences and a PhD in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, with one possible concentration in Geoscience Education. The department is very broad, offering multiple research opportunities in the geoscience subdisciplines of Geology, Meteorology, GIS, and Geography. Geoscience education research focuses on geoscience learning in traditional, online, and informal educational environments. Four faculty members specialize in Geoscience education research: Renee Clary, Brenda Kirkland, Karen McNeal, and Kathy Sherman-Morris. Active geoscience education research within the department includes programs investigating effective teaching strategies, history and philosophy of science in geoscience teaching, geocognition and understanding of complex earth systems, and geoscience visualization strategies. Applications for MS, PhD, and postdoctoral levels in geoscience education are welcomed.


North Carolina State University: MS/PhD, David McConnell
Geoscience education research in the Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences (MEAS) is part of the North Carolina State University discipline-based teaching and learning initiative. MEAS offers both MS and PhD degrees with a focus on geoscience education research in a variety of topics including: 1. The connection between the affective domain and learning outcomes in the geoscience curriculum (NSF-0817286 abstract); 2. Critical thinking for civic thinking in science through student analysis of real-world scenarios (NSF-0633660 abstract); 3. Investigation of transfer with cooperative assessment exercises and cooperative testing; 4. Tracing the novice-expert continuum from new freshmen to tenured faculty; and, 5. Assessing the impact of classroom interventions on learning in large lecture and lab settings.


Northern Colorado University: MA, Joe Elkins, Steven Anderson
The Earth Sciences department at Northern Colorado University offer both a B.S. and M.A. degree in Earth Sciences. Students have the option of studying in one of four emphasis areas: Environmental Science, Geology, Meteorology, and Secondary Education.


Purdue University: MS/PhD, Eric Riggs
Research focused on field-based learning, cognition in outdoor environments, and research into Native American geoscience instruction in field and reservation-based settings. Coursework includes the full range of solid earth geoscience graduate coursework coupled with science education research methodology and theory in collaboration with Curriculum and Instruction and other departments in the College of Education. Core coursework is coordinated loosely through the science education research group and through the Center for Research and Engagement in Science and Mathematics Education.


Texas A&M University
The College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University is a very large program offering a multitude of different degrees in the Geoscience field.


University of South Florida: MS/PhD, Jeff Ryan, H.L. (Len) Vacher


Western Michigan University
Graduate students in geoscience education at WMU can earn a degree through The Mallinson Institute for Science Education (MISE) in collaboration with the Department of Geosciences. The MA program is designed for inservice teachers and can be completed largely through online coursework. The doctoral program has several tracks focusing on (1) college science teaching, (2) discipline-specific research and teaching, and (3) K-12 curriculum and instruction. We also offer a concurrent enrollment program (Masters in science discipline/ PhD Science Education). MISE is a nationally top-ranked program with 10 faculty and 15-20 full-time doctoral students. Research in geoscience/ earth science education focuses on geocognition; specifically, toward understanding the knowledge and skills that geoscientists use when working on complex, field-based problems. We study geoscientists engaged in field work across the spectrum from beginning students (novices) to professionals (experts), in order to determine how geological knowledge develops through training and practice. We are also interested in the preparation and development of K-12 earth science teachers, with an emphasis on field experiences and alternative conceptions.


Western Washington University: MS, Scott Linneman
Research focuses on teacher-scientist partnerships, field-based learning and the role of technology in geoscience instruction (NSF-0837820 abstract). MS program requires solid earth geoscience graduate coursework and science education research methodology and theory in collaboration with WWU's Woodring College of Education.

Programs Housed in Colleges of Education

Arizona State University
See description in Colleges of Science list, above.


Michigan State University: PhD, Andy Anderson
Michigan State University's College of Education has been the nation's top graduate program in elementary and secondary education for over a decade (see story). MSU offers MACT and PhD programs with specializations in science education for students with experience and interest in earth science teaching at the K-12 level. Faculty in this program collaborate closely with faculty in the College of Natural Science and the inter-College Division of Science and Mathematics Education. Contact Charles W. (Andy) Anderson for information (andya@msu.edu).


Purdue University: MS/PhD, Dan Shepardson, Jerry Krockover
Research focused on teaching and learning in K-12 settings and in teacher education. Programs are focused primarily on in-service teacher education and in environmental science education for pre- and in-service teachers, and K-12 students. Coursework includes the full range of Curriculum and Instruction core coursework coupled with offerings from the College of Science and the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences through the science education research group and the Center for Research and Engagement in Science and Mathematics Education.


University of Northern Iowa: MA, Chad Heinzel, Cherin Lee, Kyle Gray
The science education department at the University of Northern Iowa offers a Master of Arts in Science Education with an emphasis in earth science education. Research interests include incorporating educational technologies such as GIS and personal response systems (clickers) into earth science courses as well as investigating ways to improve geocognition in undergraduate and K-12 students.


University of Wyoming: MS/PhD, Tim Slater
Program projected to begin in Fall 2009. The research agenda of the Cognition in Astronomy, Physics and Earth sciences Research (CAPER) Team is shaped by the framework of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) and reflects an intellectualization of what makes learning geoscience topics easy or difficult, how this changes with the pre-conceptions and spatial reasoning skills that learners carry with them, and how best to equip teachers and faculty to teach effectively geoscience. Graduate students can choose to earn their degrees in either the College of Arts & Science or the College of Education and are housed in the cross-college UW Science and Mathematics Teaching Center (SMTC).

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