Undergraduate teaching modules featuring geodesy data applied to critical social topics (GETSI: GEodetic Tools for Societal Issues)

Project No.
PI Name
Beth Pratt-Sitaula
Target Discipline


Abstract 1

Undergraduate teaching modules featuring geodesy data applied to critical social topics (GETSI: GEodetic Tools for Societal Issues)

Presentation Type
Meghan Miller, UNAVCO Beth Pratt-Sitaula, UNAVCO Donna Charlevoix, UNAVCO Becca Walker, Mt San Antonio College Bruce Douglas, University of Indiana


(a) Over the last two decades, technical advances in geodesy ヨ the study of the size, shape, and mass of the Earth and their changes with time ヨ have revolutionized our understanding of Earth processes and produced discoveries of major societal impact related to climate change, water resource management, and mitigation of natural hazards. Teaching resources and textbooks have simply not kept pace with advances in geodesy, both for introductory and majors-level undergraduate courses. At the majorsメ level, this gap compromises our ability to prepare future geoscientists with a necessary full skill set by omitting essential modern tools. At the introductory level, students are unaware of key emerging breakthroughs in understanding many aspects of geosciences and thus are not gaining the scientific and technical literacy needed to be informed citizens.


1. Improve geoscience (particularly geodetic) knowledge base of undergraduate students both for general science literacy (introductory) and future science workforce (majors-level).
2. Improve effectiveness of teaching resources and pedagogy employed by faculty members teaching geodesy, geoscience, and allied sciences.

1. Develop five curricular modules featuring geodesy data investigations, which support Earth science and quantitative literacy at both introductory and majorsメ levels.
2. Test modules for student learning effectiveness at three different institutions.
3. Revise modules.
4. Publish curriculum on SERC as special resource collection linked as appropriate to existing collections.

Five modules are being developed ヨ each by two faculty co-authors. Initial community input was sought via one in-person workshop session, two virtual charrettes and an online survey. Two development workshops were held in 2014 and 2015 with module authors and supported by professional development webinars before and after (https://serc.carleton.edu/getsi/meetings/index.html). Webinars and GSA short courses will be conducted when module materials are finished and published online. In addition, GETSI will produce a モgeodesy curriculum developerメs manualヤ to describe process and lessons-learned.


(a) & (b) The GETSI project is closely following the InTeGrate Project (https://serc.carleton.edu/integrate/index.html) development and assessment process for module development. InTeGrate funded by an NSF STEP Center grant. Science Education Resource Center (SERC), the lead organization on InTeGrate, is providing assessment consultation, external evaluation, and website hosting for GETSI.
This process details a series of Timeline Checkpoints and includes a Materials Development Rubric, which help the authors complete the learning resources on time and to high quality (https://serc.carleton.edu/getsi/info_team_members/timeline.html). Extensive online resources also support author as they undertake module development (https://serc.carleton.edu/getsi/info_team_members/curr_dev.html).

(c) Involved parties are the PIs listed above, SERC, six module co-authors, two student interns, and a few UNAVCO community members who have served as technical experts on certain types of geodesy data and research.


(a) The project is not yet done, so these are preliminary results, but so far the evidence points to a strong ability to develop high quality teaching resources that feature geodesy data. We have also found that key components to making geodesy module development successful is inclusion of a triptych of skills including 1) geodetic and data processing expertise, 2) undergraduate instructional expertise, and 3) pedagogy/assessment expertise.

(b) Deliverables are the aforementioned teaching modules which will be disseminated via website and faculty short courses. A paper or article to National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) to publications such as モIn the Trenchesヤ or モJournal of Geoscience Educationヤ is also planned.

(c) Now that the Process has been tested and refined, we intend to submit an IUSE モDevelopment and Implementationヤ proposal to fund the development of several more modules and considerably more dissemination via faculty professional development short courses and webinars. UNAVCO, along with a slightly different set of collaborators are also planning to submit and IUSE モExploratoryヤ proposal to investigate extending and adapting the curriculum development model to modules for field geoscience courses ヨ rather than classroom settings.

Broader Impacts

(a) The project benefits society by arming students (many from underrepresented groups) with greater knowledge of how science research can inform societal decisions. Undergraduate curriculum featuring geodesy, an area of recognized need for improvement, supports overall Earth science literacy gains. GETSI leverages previous and ongoing investments by NSF through SERCメs InTeGrate project and UNAVCO Education and Community Engagement. It shares with InTeGrate a strong grounding in societal issues and thus utilizes many of the same techniques and assessments.

(b) So far the primary people to be impacted by the project are the module authors who have received considerable professional development on best-practice pedagogy and assessment. About 30 participants in the 2014 webinars learned overview-level information about geodesy data and applications. Ultimately, dissemination will target both geodesy and larger geoscience instructional communities and seek to engage participants in community building across institutional lines.

(c) So far only webinars have been used but once the modules are finished, both in-person short courses and webinars will be used ヨ in addition to a journal article.

Unexpected Challenges

The project has not encountered significant unexpected challenges.



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