The Good Earth is the product of collaboration between the content rigor provided by Earth Science specialists (McConnell, Steer) and the results of research on learning as contributed by pedagogical experts (Knight, Owens). The Good Earth has been explicitly designed to be compatible with inquiry-based, active learning in the college classroom. The structural elements of this text will allow the instructor to incorporate these student-centered teaching methods into their Earth Science course. The authors have tested the book's content and pedagogy in large Earth Science classes for non-majors that are populated with mostly freshmen. Their experiences show that the materials and methods in The Good Earth can improve students' learning, increase daily attendance, reduce attrition, and increase students' enthusiasm in comparison with classes taught following a traditional lecture format.
The authors have chosen to emphasize three scientific themes throughout the text: i) scientific literacy; ii) Earth Science and the human experience; and, iii) the science of global change. The discussion of scientific methods is woven into the text throughout. They have included numerous examples of human interaction with the Earth that can serve as entry points for students to appreciate the nature of science. Global change is a theme that is evident in much current Earth Science research so our authors have used global change as a content theme throughout the book.