|About the Design Guide|
The ESSE Design Guide provides a comprehensive synthesis of the experience of faculty who have taught ESS courses at universities in the United States beginning in the early 1990s as part of the ESSE program funded by NASA If you consider each of the ESS courses that have been developed and taught as “experiments” both in pedagogy and institutional organization, then the Design Guide represents an analysis of the experiments and provides a summary of the main results.
The Design Guide thus provides a foundation, based on 15 years of classroom experience for university faculty and administrators to develop ESS classes and curricula for the benefit of their departments, their institutions, and the greater society.
What is in the Design Guide?
This Design Guide for undergraduate Earth System Science Education is a web-based resource for teaching Earth system science. Its elements are listed in the menu bar at the top of the web page in a form that allows for navigation by a variety of pathways.
The most basic elements of the Design Guide are the nine sections that cover a range of topics and information of importance to ESSE. Key points for each section can be accessed from within sections and from the main navigation bar. The main navigation for each section is provided by a menu bar on the left side of the screen. Every section starts with answers to two questions (Why is this important? What is in this section?), which provide an overview of the section. Each section also includes answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), vignettes (300-500 word stories) relating individual experiences teaching ESS, and a summary of how the section relates to five cross-cutting themes.
The body of each section covers a range of topics. These topics are also listed in the menu bar on the left-hand side of the screen and provide the basic navigation for the contents of that section.
Finally, the Design Guide also provides links to the ESSE Evaluation Toolkit, and other ESSE resources including the Journal of Geoscience Education Special Issue on Earth System Science Education: Symphony of the Spheres, an annotated reference list, and a short survey on the value of this web site.
Who is the primary audience for the Design Guide?
Faculty who are teaching, or are interested in teaching, Earth system science at the undergraduate level, are the primary audience for the Design Guide.
Secondary audiences include college and university administrators interested in developing an undergraduate ESS curriculum, as well as high school practitioners and administrators.
Who developed the Design Guide?
The Design Guide was developed and produced via a collaboration of faculty involved in the ESSE21 program. Each of the individuals who has contributed to the Design Guide, and their contribution, can be found on the About The Design Guide Team page.
When was the Design Guide written?
The initial concept for the Design Guide was developed at the ESSE 21 meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska in August 2005. A detailed outline was developed in the fall of 2005 and presented to the ESSE 21 Steering Committee in November 2005. Writing for the first edition of the guide began in December 2005 and, along with review and revisions, was completed in late 2006.
Who reviewed the content of the Design Guide?
The initial review of all content was performed by the Design Guide Management Team and by the section authors. An inhouse review in August 2006 was performed by the ESSE 21 Steering Committee and select individuals who attended the ESSE 21 Fairbanks meeting in August 2005. Final review was provided by members of the ESSE community in late 2006.
What are the objectives of the Design Guide?
The primary objective of the Design Guide is to analyze and summarize ESSE experiences over the past 15 years that will assist faculty at a wide range of higher education institutions develop and deliver Earth system science classes and curricula. In addition, the Design Guide will help promote Earth System Science Education by sharing experiences that:
Advance understanding of the Earth as a system
Finally, the Design Guide also provides a context and a “home” for other ESSE21 products including the evaluation toolkit.
Seventy educators and scientists gathered at the 2005 ESSE 21 meeting in Fairbanks to consider the question of how to best synthesize, document, and share the work of ESSE participants begun in the early 1990s. With the recent shift in emphasis at NASA, many researchers have naturally attempted to reframe their own roles, while also giving consideration to how ESSE 21 might extend its mission into the next decade. Discussions considered how to synthesize the experience of ESSE into something tangible as a solid base for continuing ESSE’s mission of coordinating community and sharing learning resources in the future while meeting NASA’s evolving needs to incorporate Earth system science into the exploration vision of the agency. The ESSE21 Program Office presented a plan to gather, refine, review and publish prized ESS learning resources already in use in the classroom, as an organized collection of ESSE modules. While some resonated with the need for such a content driven collection, especially at the introductory level, others put forth an alternative concept with broader emphasis on documenting and sharing the systemic impact of ESSE supported by illustrative applications to ESS topics, including module development. With general support and agreement among the group, the meeting participants proposed to develop a Design Guide for Earth System Science Education, a living web-based document authored by the ESSE principals and partners, past and present, that outlines the experience, strategies and impacts of implementing ESS at the college and university level.
For 15 years, the ESSE and ESSE 21 programs have fostered an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the Earth as a system. Unlike educational sessions in national research-oriented meetings, the ESSE program has brought together highly motivated educators drawn from large research universities, smaller colleges, and minority serving institutions. This integration has clarified the distinct differences of educational development, given that ESS education trickles out of mature, interdisciplinary research programs much more easily than it does in smaller institutions with fewer active researchers. Sixtythree teams have been funded by NASA since 1991, supporting faculty from different disciplines to come together to develop and offer courses in Earth system science at their home institutions. Over 100,000 students have taken ESS courses that were initiated with NASA support. Emphasis has been placed on collaboration of faculty within a given institution, as well as between institutions of significantly different research activity, in the creation and sharing of educational resources. Earth system science is now in the mainstream of scientific endeavors at many institutions, with ESSE program participants and their home institutions being early and sustaining contributors to systemic interdisciplinary reform in classroom education.
As Earth system science thrives and moves forward, ESSE, in the broad sense of all who have participated, has the responsibility and opportunity to continue building an interactive community that jointly develops and shares content and lessons learned. In seizing this opportunity, ESSE’s ongoing legacy is to continue the development, documentation, collection and sharing of educational resources and experiences of how ESS is being presented and advanced in the classrooms and laboratories of this Nation.
The unique aspects of ESSE must be identified, focused and shared in order for the program to have a significant impact beyond the institutions originally funded by the program. ESSE and ESSE 21 essentially supported 63 experiments across the nation that provide a rich and textured source of information to draw threads of common wisdom on how best to teach ESS at a variety of higher education institutions by faculty from a wide range of disciplines. In addition, the program has attracted a dedicated group of faculty who believe an ESS approach to education is valuable and important. The distributed expertise of this community, with whom the vision for the future of ESS lies, must be harvested and shared. A Design Guide for Earth System Science Education offers a venue to share this collective wisdom and leverage NASA’s long term investment in the Program.
Earth System Science Education
for the 21st Century (ESSE 21)
Universities Space Research Association
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