Remote Teaching Roundup: This Week’s Reading (May 25, 2020)

In the spirit of the weblogs of old, I’m going to start posting a few useful things I’ve read. No theme, no big insights – just a log of what I’ve read.

Helicopter Research

I teach our introduction to research course in Environmental Science (a.k.a. “Environmental Research Seminar” or “Junior Seminar”), and usually incorporate a few modules about responsible research conduct. I just found out about what’s often called “helicopter research” or “parachute research”, which is the opposite of responsible. I may include one or more of these readings to introduce research ethics and stakeholder involvement:

Field Experiences

I’m gearing up to teach a research experience course in the fall, and am considering teaching a pre-class unit on equity and fieldwork. I’d love students to read these two articles with what appear at first glance to be contrasting conclusions:

  • Giles, S., Jackson, C., & Stephen, N. (2020). Barriers to fieldwork in undergraduate geoscience degrees. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, 1(2), 77–78.
  • McNulty, J. (n.d.). Field courses boost STEM diversity, study reveals. Retrieved May 27, 2020, from [Note: this is a press release, not the original study, which doesn’t seem to be available from the journal yet.]

Remote Teaching

A couple of threads on Twitter with lessons learned from this remote/online term:

From my own students: I asked them to think about what was working in their classes. Flexibility was number one – faculty help most when they are most flexible and responsive. Also, checking in, allowing students to plan ahead, incorporating discussion boards in an authentic way, and facilitating group work.

Also: did I post this already? The Teaching Practices of Award-Winning Online Faculty (paywall) echoes a number of these sentiments.


  • Assign roles in lab groups to improve equity: Quinn, K. N., Kelley, M. M., McGill, K. L., Smith, E. M., Whipps, Z., & Holmes, N. G. (2020). Group roles in unstructured labs show inequitable gender divide. ArXiv:2005.07670 [Physics]. Retrieved from
  • The idea of “fixing the student” is a problem: Asai, D. J. (2020). Race Matters. Cell, 181(4), 754–757.
  • A whole issue of The Physics Teacher on equity (especially gender equity) in the physics classroom.
  • Along similar lines, thanks to Beck Strauss (@BeckEStrauss) for turning me on to this paper about LGBT+ inclusion in physics: Ackerman, N., Atherton, T., Avalani, A. R., Berven, C. A., Laskar, T., Neunzert, A., et al. (2018). LGBT+ Inclusivity in Physics and Astronomy: A Best Practices Guide. ArXiv:1804.08406 [Astro-Ph, Physics:Physics]. Retrieved from
  • Has anyone else used this online text? I’m considering it for the fall. van der Pluijm, B. A., & Marshak, S. (2016). Processes in Structural Geology and Tectonics. Unpublished.

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