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A Student-Centered Project for Earth System History
This article presents an idea for a classroom activity that is intended to replace some of the lectures that would ordinarily be necessary in a survey of Earth history over geologic time. Students take the lecturer's place in front of the class and present some of the material to their colleagues. They work in groups on a single era or period. Each student plays the role of an expert (such as an oceanographer) and works with teammates playing other sorts of experts (a biologist, a geologist, an atmospheric scientist). Their presentations will require them to do research and to construct resource lists to keep track of how they learned what they are presenting. They will also write brief summaries of the findings within their area of expertise. While the students are researching and preparing their presentations, the instructor will give lectures on the earliest time units, modeling the kind of presentation that the students will be doing. Eventually, students will take the stage, presenting their time units in order. Rubrics for assessing the presentation and the resource list are included.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Graduate / Professional
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Classroom activity
  • Text:
    • Journal article
  • Educational theory and practice
  • Geological Sciences:
    • Geologic time
Technical requirements:
Adobe Acrobat reader
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
We encourage the reuse and dissemination of the material on this site for educational, noncommercial purposes as long as attribution is retained.
DLESE Catalog ID: EVAL-TLKT-000-000-000-161
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT)
Journal of Geoscience Education (JGE)

Author: Rebecca Teed
Science Education Resource Center
Carleton College