Dr. Paula Messina

Paula Messina

During my 20 years as a high school teacher in Brooklyn, New York, I was perpetually challenged by how best to convey abstract concepts to young learners. During my  K-12 career, I developed three volumes of hands-on materials through a Title IX federal grant; these activities were published through the New York City Board of Education in three languages: English, Spanish, and Chinese. The modules were initially performed by high school students, who later served as the facilitators of the same lessons at a cooperating middle school. The research showed that our high school students learned best by teaching their younger peers. Since joining the faculty at SJSU, I have become interested in effective online learning strategies. I conduct research comparing two online delivery methods (“podcasting” vs. interactive Flash modules and SCORM-based assessments) to investigate whether either modality contributes toward the lasting understandings of geoscience concepts. Ongoing projects include online collaborations with the USGS, and educational television programs (for the Discovery Channel, History Channel, PBS’s “Nature,” “Real Science!,” and “Savage Planet” series, among others).  From 2006 until 2008, I was one of twelve committee members charged with the redesign of the College Board’s Advanced Placement Environmental Science curriculum: a sweeping NSF-funded initiative.  I continue to serve the College Board as one of seven members of its Science Academic Advisory Council (SAAC), which oversees all science-related College Board endeavors in K-12 education (e.g., AP curricula and testing, SAT exams, etc.).

Contact Information

Dr. Paula Messina
Department of Geology & Science Education
Email: Paula.Messina@sjsu.edu
Phone: 408-924-5027
Office: 201 Duncan Hall

Science Ed Courses Taught

Science Education 173: Secondary Science Methods 
Science Education 204/Geology 204: Earth Systems Science for Teachers
Science 255: Advanced Topics in Science (Geosciences)
Science Education 375: Science Education Colloquium


Ph.D., City University of New York; New York, New York. Earth and Environmental 
Sciences, 1998.
M.Phil., City University of New York; New York, New York. Earth and 
Environmental Sciences, 1996.
M.S., Long Island University, Brooklyn, New York. Education (Guidance and 
Counseling), 1985.
B.S., Hunter College, New York, New York. Geology, 1976.

New York State Permanent Teaching License, Earth and General Sciences, 1978.

Selected Publications

P. Messina, 2007. The Köppen Climate Classification System, in McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, 10th Edition.

P. Messina, P. Stoffer, W. C. Smith. 2005.  “Macropolygon morphology, development, and classification on North Panamint and Eureka playas, Death Valley National Park, CA, in J.P. Calzia, ed., Fifty years of Death Valley research, A volume in honor of Lauren A. Wright and Bennie Troxel, Elsevier: Earth Science Reviews, v. 55, p 309-322.

P. Messina, 2005. Online learning enhances geoscience content and teaching strategies for K-12 educators: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 37, No. 7, p. 280.

P. Stoffer, and P. Messina, 2005. “Big Bend National Park: A 3D Photographic Geology Tour”; (USGS-NPS Joint Educational Website).

P. Stoffer, and P. Messina, 2005. “Carlsbad Caverns National Park: A 3D Photographic Geology Tour”; (USGS-NPS Joint Educational Website).

P. Stoffer, and P. Messina, 2005. “Guadalupe Mountains National Park: A 3D Photographic Geology Tour”; (USGS-NPS Joint Educational Website).

P. Messina, and Metzger, E. P., 2004. Reaching Beyond the Geoscience Stigma: Strategies for Success, Eos Trans. American Geophysical Union 85(47), Fall Meeting Supplement, Abstract ED21B-0065.

P. Messina, Metzger, E.P. and Sedlock, R.L., 2003. Modifications to ESSEA Curriculum at San José State University:  Adapting to Teachers’ Needs: Eos Transactions. American Geophysical Union, v. 84, n. 46, Fall Meeting Supplement, Abstract ED12B-0138.

P. Stoffer, Phillips, E., and Messina, P., 2003.  Anaglyph Image Technology As a Visualization Tool for Teaching Geology of National Parks: Eos Transactions.American Geophysical Union, v. 84, n. 46, Fall Meeting Supplement, Abstract ED32B-1198.

P. Stoffer, and P. Messina, and Phillips, E. 2003. “Death Valley National Park: A 3D Photographic Geology Tour”; (USGS Educational Website).

P. Stoffer, and P. Messina, 2003.  “Geology of the New York City Region”: (USGS Educational Website).

P. Messina, P. Speranza, E. P. Metzger, P., 2003.  “The Ongoing Educational Anomaly of Earth Science Placement.”  Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 51, p. 424-430.

P. Messina, Metzger, E. P. and Sedlock, R. L., 2002.  “ESSEA as an Enhancement to K-12 Earth Systems Science Efforts at San José State University,”  American Geophysical Union Meeting, San Francisco.

P. Messina, 2001.  “GIS-based terrain analysis of the Racetrack Playa, and implications for the sliding rock phenomenon of Death Valley National Park.”  In  M. Machette, et al. Eds, Quaternary and Late Pliocene Geology of the Death Valley Region: Recent Observations on Tectonics, Stratigraphy, and the Lake Cycles (Guidebook for the 2001 Pacific Cell–Friends of the Pleistocene Fieldtrip).  USGS Open File Report 01-51, pp. P234 - P238.          

P. Messina, 2001.  Using Differential GPS to Map the “Sliding” Rocks of Racetrack Playa.  Professional Surveyor (21:7), pp. 4 - 12.  (Invited feature article)

P. Stoffer, P. Messina, J.A. Chamberlain, Jr., and Dennis O. Terry, Jr., 2001. The Cretaceous‑Tertiary Boundary Interval in Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USGS Open File Report 01-056 (2001), 49 p.

P. Messina, 2001. Using New Technology to Solve an Old Mystery.  California Geology (54:1), pp. 4 - 15. (Invited feature article)

P. Messin, 2000.  Terrain Analysis of the Racetrack Basin and the Sliding Rocks of Death Valley.  Geomorphology (35), pp. 253 - 265.

P. Messina,  2000. Footprints as Inquiry-based Learning Tools.  Journal of Geoscience Education (48), pp. 667 - 672.

P. Messina, 2000. Monitoring “Migrating” Mono Lake.  GPS World (11:8), p. 20.       
P. Messina, 2000.  Using GIS and GPS to Map the Sliding Rocks of Racetrack Playa.  In Keith C. Clarke: “Getting Started with Geographic Information Systems” (3 ed.), pp.270 - 274.  Prentice-Hall, 2000.

P. Messina, R. Dornfest, E. Brennan. 1999. “The Paradoxical Role of Episodic Flooding in the Formation of Giant Desiccation Polygons on North Panamint Playa, Death Valley, California.” GSA Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 31, No. 7.

P. Messina, 1999.  “Differential GPS/GIS Analysis of the Sliding Rock Phenomenon of Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park.”  Geologic Research and Mapping of Death Valley National Park: Conference Proceedings.  U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 99-153, pp. 107-109.

P. Messina, 1998.  "Unlocking the Spatial Secrets of the Sliding Rocks with ArcView GIS."  ArcNews, 7:3.

P. Messina, 1998.  The Sliding Rocks of Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park, California: Physical and Spatial Influences on Surface Processes.  Published doctoral dissertation, City University of New York. University Microfilms, Incorporated.

P. Messina, P. Stoffer and K. C. Clarke, 1997.  "From the XY Files: Mapping Death Valley's Wandering Rocks."  GPS World, 8:4, p 34 - 44.

P. Messina.  "Project E.T. ("Effective Transitions") Science Modules." New York City Board of Education, volume 1 (1992), volume 2 (1993), volume 3 (1994), volume 4 (1995).  This collection of nearly two hundred student-centered activities was the basis of a Title VII grant.  Each volume was translated into Spanish and Chinese for use with ESL students on the high school and middle school levels.