Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

The Texas Earth and Space Science (TXESS) Revolution: A Model for the Delivery of Earth Science Professional Development to Minority-Serving Teachers

Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

The Texas Earth and Space Science (TXESS) Revolution: A Model for the Delivery of Earth Science Professional Development to Minority-Serving Teachers

Article excerpt


The Texas Earth and Space Science (TXESS) Revolution was a 5-y teacher professional development project that aimed to increase teachers' content knowledge in Earth science and preparing them to teach a 12th-grade capstone Earth and Space Science course, which is new to the Texas curriculum. The National Science Foundation-supported project was designed around six principles that proved to be critical to in its success: (1) model best practices in workshop presentations, (2) use authentic Earth science data and cybertechnology to teach up-to-date content, (3) provide ongoing training to cohorts of learners over a 2-y period, (4) involve geoscience consortia and programs that can provide proven content for classrooms, (5) use ongoing evaluations to guide future workshops, and (6) provide opportunities for leadership development through participation in research and curriculum development projects. The project served 177 science teachers by supporting them with the pedagogical, technological, and scientific tools to teach modern geoscience. TXESS Revolution teachers directly impacted more than 29,000 students, of which about 69% are nonwhite, by exposing students in Texas to the geosciences and planting the seeds for them to pursue geoscience as a field of study. Using a train-the-trainer approach, TXESS Revolution teachers shared their professional development with other Texas teachers, strengthening Earth science education at all K-12 levels throughout the state, an impact that extends beyond preparation in Earth and space science.

© 2023 National Association of Geoscience Teachers. [DOI: 10.5408/12-348.1]

Key words: teacher professional development, diversity, Earth science, secondary education


In 2006, changes to the Texas State Science curriculum, combined with a growing national concern for the future geoscience workforce, created a perfect storm of opportunity to implement a statewide teacher professional development program in Earth science education. A decade earlier, Texas had removed Earth science from the graduation requirements in Texas high schools (Roy, 2002), and geoscientists fought hard to reinstate it into the state curriculum. They succeeded, and when the new fourth-year science requirement was approved, Earth and Space Science was added as an optional capstone course for high school seniors. In support of the new requirement, the University of Texas at Austin's Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) launched a teacher - training program called Texas Earth and Space Science (TXESS) Revolution. This article describes our experiences implementing this program between 2007 and 2012.

The TXESS Revolution, named with a nod toward the national Earth Science Revolution (Barstow and Geary, 2002), is a 5-y program in teacher professional development that engages teachers for a full 2 y. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the program uses authentic data and hands-on discovery to teach Earth science to teachers so that they, in turn, can teach it well to students. This initiative is particularly important in Texas, not only because of the large economic and environmental impact of geosciences on our state, but also because of the large and growing minority population.

The most rapidly growing segments of the U.S. population are largely underrepresented in science and engineering (National Academy of Science, 2010). The situation is particularly acute in the geosciences, which award fewer bachelor's and master's degrees to Hispanic, black, and American Indian/Native Alaskan students (collectively referred to as underrepresented minorities, or URMs) than are awarded in other science and engineering fields. Between 2000 and 2008, URMs were awarded only 5% to 7% of all geoscience degrees (NSF, 2010; O'Connell and Holmes, 2011); during the same period, URMs earned only 4% of geoscience doctoral degrees (Hallar et al., 2010; National Academy of Science, 2010; O'Connell and Holmes, 2011). …

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