Innovative proposals will significantly transform teaching and learning in Earth and Environmental Sciences

Thursday, May 23, 2019
Wordle of proposal words placed over map of the world
What happens when you combine a great opportunity such as the Dean of Science Undergraduate Teaching Initiative with a group of creative geoscientists striving to improve university education? You generate innovative ideas specifically designed to propel the future of education that embraces the next generation.
We recently received substantial funding to integrate active learning, emerging technologies and blended learning in classrooms, laboratories and outside while we are immersed in nature in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Transformations will be infused into 14 courses, innovatively improving first- to fourth-year courses in all programs. This team effort is designed to encourage collaboration between faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students.
 
Making a tectonic shift: improving active learning in the classroom and the field is one of the successfully funded proposals. A part of this proposal involves integrating the scientific method into a systems-level approach across multiple courses. This will help better prepare young geoscientists addressing the future of Earth’s resources such as water and minerals.
 
Using Emerging Technologies to enhance field, experiential and active based learning is another successfully funded proposal. A part of this proposal involves creating dynamic study APPs to help students identify, relate and contextualize rocks and minerals. Another part of this proposal involves bringing the outside world into the classroom using virtual reality or overlaying data in the real world to augmented reality while students are exploring the outside world. This proposal creatively uses emerging technology and the idea that the best geoscientists are those that see or work with the most rocks.
 
Development of Interactive Blended Learning Modules for Enhancing Lab Skills and Preparedness is another successfully funded proposal that was submitted with other disciplines in the Faculty of Science. A part of this proposal involves creating unique interactive modules to better prepare students before and after class, labs and field excursions.
 
These are really exciting times in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at U Waterloo!
 
Byline: Keith Delaney, Jen Parks, Christina Smeaton and John Johnston (Team Leaders of the DUTI-EES Proposal)