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In this chapter, we consider the design of learning experiences in the geosciences. Recognizing that too often, educational experiences do not lead to understanding that the learner can draw on when it is relevant, we focus on learning that leads to usable understanding. We use the analogy of engineering research and development to describe the way we have applied findings from cognitive science research to the design of geosciences curricula. We present a design framework based on research in cognitive science that offers guidelines for the design of learning activities that motivate learning and provide learners with opportunities to apply what they are learning. We illustrate the design framework with an example of a middle school curriculum that focuses on the relationship between physical geography and climate. We also present strategies for conducting formative evaluations of curriculum and describe how we use them to iteratively refine a design.

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