Leilani Arthurs
Associate Professor
Geological Sciences


My academic background and professional training includes studies and research in the areas of hydrology, water resources, geochemistry, and volcanology. Part of my professional experience also includes working with the United States Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. In addition to my training, experience, and research in the geological sciences, I also have a background and research experience in cognitive science and science education. Building upon this interdisciplinary background, my primary area of scholarship is currently in the area of geoscience education research.

My current geoscience education research focuses on four different areas: (i) characterizing novice conceptions of Earth processes and integrating them into assessments and constructivist approaches to teaching; (ii) investigating the role of scientific literacy in environmental decision making; (iii) exploring the role of attitudes and beliefs in learning science, and developing strategies to enhance student metacognitive skills that stimulate success in Earth and space science courses; and (iv) promoting research-based teaching and learning practices in post-secondary STEM education.

The central premise to this line of research views the learner and the teacher as partners in the educational process. This line of highly interdisciplinary research draws on the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cognitive Science, Linguistics, Anthropology, Educational Psychology, and Psychometrics. This research utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods developed and used in the social sciences. I would like to expand this line of research to include not only formal education but also informal education.


Earth science education, geoscience education, environmental geology, hydrogeochemistry, natural hazards, geocognition, metacognition, science literacy, decision making, assessment construction, instructional design

Department Topic Area

Education and Training

  • B.A., Peace & Conflict Studies, University of California at Berkeley
  • B.S., Geology, University of Hawai`i at Hilo
  • Ph.D., Civil Engineering & Geological Sciences, University of Notre Dame
  • Certificates in Pedagogy, Kaneb Center for Teaching & Learning
  • Postdoc in Science Education, University of Colorado at Boulder