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Steven Semken


  • Higher Ed: Science 


Ph.D., 1989, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
M.S., 1984, University of California, Los Angeles
S.B., 1980, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Research: I'm an ethnogeologist interested in the effects of place and culture on the ways we study Earth and teach Earth science. I'm also involved in preparing Earth science teachers, increasing public understanding of science, enhancing diversity in the geoscience community. I work mostly in the geologically, ecologically, and culturally diverse places of the American Southwest.

Teaching: I regularly teach courses in Field Geology, Southwest Regional Geology, Introductory Geology, and Teaching Earth and Space Sciences. Before joining ASU, I taught Geology and Environmental Science on the Navajo Nation.

I am a collaborator in the ASU Center for Research on Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology (CRESMET), and am a Past-President and former Distinguished Speaker of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT). 


Effects of place, culture, and affect on Earth science teaching and learning
Place-based, field-based, and cross-cultural science education
Ethnogeology of Southwest cultures
Research-based Earth science teacher preparation and professional development 


Semken, S., & Brandt, E. (2010). Implications of sense of place and place-based education for ecological integrity and cultural sustainability in contested places. In D. Tippins, M. Mueller, M. van Eijck, & J. Adams (Eds.), Cultural studies and environmentalism: The confluence of ecojustice, place-based (science) education, and indigenous knowledge systems (pp. 00-00). New York: Springer.

Semken, S., Butler Freeman, C., Bueno Watts, N., Neakrase, J., Dial, R., & Baker, D. (2009). Factors that influence sense of place as a learning outcome of place-based geoscience teaching. Electronic Journal of Science Education, 13, 00-00.

Gonzales, D., & Semken, S. (2009). A comparative study of field-inquiry in an undergraduate petrology course. In S. J. Whitmeyer, D. W. Mogk, & E. J. Pyle (Eds.), Field geology education: Historical perspectives and modern approaches: GSA Special Paper 461 (pp. 205-221). Boulder, CO: Geological Society of America.

Semken, S., Dodick, J., Ben-David, O., Pineda, M., Bueno Watts, N., & Karlstrom, K. (2009). Timeline and time scale cognition experiments for a geological interpretative exhibit at Grand Canyon. Proceedings of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Garden Grove, California.

Brand, B. D., Clarke, A. B., & Semken, S. (2009). Eruptive dynamics and depositional processes of Narbona Pass maar volcano, Navajo volcanic field, Navajo Nation, New Mexico (USA). Bulletin of Volcanology, 71, 49-77.

Karlstrom, K., Semken, S., Crossey, L., Perry, D., Gyllenhaal, E. D., Dodick, J., Williams, M., Hellmich-Bryan, J., Crow, R., Bueno Watts, N., & Ault, C. (2008). Informal geoscience education on a grand scale: the Trail of Time exhibition at Grand Canyon. Journal of Geoscience Education, 56, 354-361.

Semken, S., & Butler Freeman, C. (2008). Sense of place in the practice and assessment of place-based science teaching. Science Education, 92, 1042-1057.

Bueno Watts, N. F., Semken, S., Pineda, M., & Alvarado, C. (2008). Visitors' geological conceptions and meaning making at Petrified Forest National Park. Proceedings of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Baltimore, Maryland.

Semken, S., Fouch, M., Garnero, E., Zah, P., & Lippert, D. (2007). Meshing American Indian concerns with goals of EarthScope's USArray. Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 88, 309-310.

Hahn, D., Brem, S. K., & Semken, S. (2005). Exploring the social, moral, and temporal qualities of pre-service teachers' narratives of evolution. Journal of Geoscience Education, 53, 456-461.

Semken, S. (2005). Sense of place and place-based introductory geoscience teaching for American Indian and Alaska Native undergraduates. Journal of Geoscience Education, 53, 149-157.