There are no published textbooks on laboratory techniques in the geosciences at the undergraduate level. This project is creating learning modules on scientific analysis and analytical methods that will be delivered in a blended learning format.
There is a national impetus to incorporate research into the early undergraduate curriculum and to catalyze adoption of evidenced-based teaching practice in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in 2-year colleges and at the freshman and sophomore levels in 4year colleges and universities. This change is demonstrated by the emphasis on research practices and scientific skills in the new Next Generation Science Standards for K-12 as well as the upcoming work of the Board of Science Education project focusing on strengthening undergraduate students’ research experiences in STEM.
Research experiences are an effective way to engage students in STEM fields, including the geosciences. As a response to the call for increased research experiences, it is anticipated that 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities will acquire scientific analytical equipment, or will work to provide analytical opportunities at other university and government facilities for student research projects and internships. STEM students engaging in undergraduate research will need to be able to use laboratory instrumentation as well as correctly evaluate data quality, determine analytical error, and interpret data produced by these instruments.
Evidence-based teaching practices with active learning strategies will enhance the likelihood of retaining students to pursue a STEM-related degree after taking the introductory STEM courses. Pedagogically effective, yet flexible, instructional materials focused on laboratory methods and analytical techniques are needed in order to support efforts to incorporate research into the undergraduate curriculum. These materials must be presented at a level appropriate for early undergraduates who are the focus of the national initiative for recruiting STEM students.