Karen McNeal
Department of Geosciences
Marguerite Scharnagle Endowed Professor

Research Areas: Geoscience Education, Geocognition, Global Change Education, Discipline Based Education Research, Climate Communication, Active Learning

Office: 2081 Beard Eaves Coliseum

Address: 2050 Beard Eaves Coliseum
Auburn, AL 36849

Phone: (334) 844-4806

Fax: (334) 844-4295

Email: ksm0041@auburn.edu

Curriculum vitae


Ph.D., Geology, Texas A&M University
M.S., Oceanography, Texas A&M University
B.S., Marine Science, Eckerd College

Professional Employment
Program Director, National Science Foundation, Division of Graduate Education (IPA)
Professor, Department of Geosciences, Auburn University
2020 - Present
Associate Professor, Department of Geosciences, Auburn University
2016 - 2020
Associate Professor, Department of Marine Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University
2013 - 2016
Associate Professor, Department of Geosciences, Mississippi State University
2012 - 2013
Assistant Professor, Department of Geosciences, Mississippi State University
2007 - 2012
Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Department of Chemistry, Texas A&M University

Research and Teaching Interests

I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in Earth System Science, Global Change, Climate Change Literacy and Communication, and Discipline Based Education Research in the STEM Undergraduate Classroom.  Students in my group conduct research in the field of geoscience education/geocognition and typically use mixed methods research (e.g., qualitative and quantitative approaches) to investigate geoscience teaching and learning challenges in formal and informal settings. My work ties together the affective and cognitive domains of learning in the geoscience education/geocognition field. My group uses a suite of tools to investigate including psychomotor tools (e.g., eye-tracking, pupillometry, and skin biosensors), psychometric tools (e.g., concept inventories), and open-ended approaches (e.g., interviews, concept-maps, etc.) to measure people's engagement, conceptual understanding, and perceptions about the Earth.

Selected Publications

  1. Smith, T. and McNeal, K.S. 2023. Assessing motivations, benefits, and barriers of implementing virtual field experiences in geoscience-related disciplines. Journal of Geoscience Education https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10899995.2023.2258760 
  2. Cashwell, H.J., McNeal, K.S., Dello, K., Boyles, R., Davis, C. 2023. User Engagement Testing with a Pilot Decision Support Tool Aimed to Support Species Managers. Weather, Climate & Society. 327-338. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1175/WCAS-D-22-0010.1 
  3. Courtney, S., McNeal K.S. 2023. Seeing is believing: Climate change graph design impacts user judgments of credibility, usability, and risk, Geosphere DOI: https://doi.org/10.1130/GES02517.1  
  4. Courtney, S., A. A. Hyman, K. McNeal, L. Maudlin, P. Armsworth, 2022. Development of a survey instrument to quantify individual and organizational use of climate adaptation science, Environmental Science and Policy: 271-279.  
  5. Soltis, N. and McNeal K.S., 2022. Development and Validation of a Concept Inventory for Earth Systems Thinking Skills. Journal for STEM Education Research. DOI: 10.1007/s41979-021-00065-z

Last updated: 01/12/2024