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David McConnell



Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor

Jordan Hall 2138

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David McConnell grew up in Northern Ireland where he earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from Queen’s University in Belfast. He runs a geoscience education research team that has produced two post-docs, 6 PhDs and 4 MSs since 2014. These graduates work as in a variety of academic, museum, and K-12 settings. His research has been supported by numerous research grants from the National Science Foundation. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles or books. A 2017 article by McConnell et al., Instructional utility and learning efficacy of common active learning strategies received the Journal of Geoscience Education outstanding paper award (2018). Dr. McConnell has received multiple teaching awards and has been named an Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor for NC State. He is the co-author of an introductory textbook (The Good Earth: An Introduction to Earth Science) and the creator of the Geoscience Videos YouTube channel ( that has nearly 4 million views. Dr. McConnell is a Geological Society of America Fellow and is the Past President of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT). David’s most recent research with his current postdoc, Dr. Jason Jones, examines how encouraging students to make judgments about their confidence in what they know or think they know can influence their performance on quizzes and exams. Check out the CLASS (Confidence-based Learning Accuracy Support System) site and watch the short video to learn more about this exciting new work on student learning.

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B.Sc. Geology Queen's University (Northern Ireland) 1981

M.S. Geology Oklahoma State University 1983

Ph.D. Geology Texas A&M University 1987

Area(s) of Expertise

My research focus is on geoscience education, with specific attention to assessment of learning in introductory courses, the relationship between teaching beliefs and practices, and professional development of graduate students and faculty. Some of our most recent work has resulted in the creation of a collection of short videos suitable for intro courses that are available on our YouTube channel ( Previous research included multi-institutional studies on the connection between student affect and cognition; transfer of learning through cooperative assessment exercises; large classroom instructional interventions; models and modeling in the geosciences; and studies surrounding the novice-expert continuum of hard to learn geoscience topics.