Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Geology (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


Jacqueline Huntoon


This dissertation serves as a call to geoscientists to share responsibility with K-12 educators for increasing Earth science literacy. When partnerships are created among K-12 educators and geoscientists, the synergy created can promote Earth science literacy in students, teachers, and the broader community. The research described here resulted in development of tools that can support effective professional development for teachers. One tool is used during the planning stages to structure a professional development program, another set of tools supports measurement of the effectiveness of a development program, and the third tool supports sustainability of professional development programs. The Michigan Teacher Excellence Program (MiTEP), a Math/Science Partnership project funded by the National Science Foundation, served as the test bed for developing and testing these tools.

The first tool, the planning tool, is the Earth Science Literacy Principles (ESLP). The ESLP served as a planning tool for the two-week summer field courses as part of the MiTEP program. The ESLP, published in 2009, clearly describe what an Earth science literate person should know. The ESLP consists of nine big ideas and their supporting fundamental concepts. Using the ESLP for planning a professional development program assisted both instructors and teacher-participants focus on important concepts throughout the professional development activity.

The measurement tools were developed to measure change in teachers’ Earth science content-area knowledge and perceptions related to teaching and learning that result from participating in a professional development program. The first measurement tool, the Earth System Concept Inventory (ESCI), directly measures content-area knowledge through a succession of multiple-choice questions that are aligned with the content of the professional development experience. The second measurement, an exit survey, collects qualitative data from teachers regarding their impression of the professional development. Both the ESCI and the exit survey were tested for validity and reliability.

Lesson study is discussed here as a strategy for sustaining professional development in a school or a district after the end of a professional development activity. Lesson study, as described here, was offered as a formal course. Teachers engaged in lesson study worked collaboratively to design and test lessons that improve the teachers’ classroom practices. Data regarding the impact of the lesson study activity were acquired through surveys, written documents, and group interviews. The data are interpreted to indicate that the lesson study process improved teacher quality and classroom practices. In the case described here, the lesson study process was adopted by the teachers’ district and currently serves as part of the district’s work in Professional Learning Communities, resulting in ongoing professional development throughout the district.