Dr Alison Stokes

Dr Alison Stokes

Lecturer in Earth and Environmental Science Education

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science & Environment)


Lecturer in Earth and Environmental Science Education

Stage One Tutor


2011: PGCert Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, Plymouth University
2000: PhD Geological Sciences, Plymouth University: “Mineral growth and fluid migration in mid-crustal shear zones” 
1996: BSc (Hons) Geological Sciences, Plymouth University (1st class) 

2013 - current: Lecturer in Earth and Environmental Science Education, Plymouth University
2012 - 2013: Associate Lecturer, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science, Plymouth University
2011 - 2012: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford
2011 - 2011: Project Officer, HEA-GEES Subject Centre, Plymouth University
2005 - 2010: Research Coordinator, Experiential Learning CETL, Plymouth University
2002 - 2005: Operational Crime and Intelligence Analyst, Devon and Cornwall Constabulary
2000 - 2002: Recruitment Strategy Manager (Education), Devon County Council

Professional membership

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Roles on external bodies

  • Diversity in Geoscience UK (DiG-UK): Co-lead (2018-present)
  • Committee of Heads of Environmental Science (CHES): Member of Executive Committe (2017-present)
  • Geological Society of London Higher Education Network: Committee Secretary (2015-2019)
  • International Association for Geoscience Diversity: Executive Counsellor (2014-2016)
  • Journal of Geoscience Education: Editor for Research (2014-present)
  • Journal of Geoscience Education: Associate Editor (2009-2014)

Teaching interests

I currently teach on the following modules:
  • ENVS1001: Carbon in Environmental Systems (module leader)
  • ENVS1002: The Physical Environment
  • GEES1002: Climate Change and Energy
  • ENVS2004: Environmental Issues and Communication (module leader)
  • ENVS3001/3002/3003: Research Project
  • GEOL5001: Geoscience Communication

Research interests

Inclusive science education
Thinking and learning in the geosciences (geocognition)
Fieldwork pedagogy
Science communication and public engagement
Communicating flood risk
Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge

Grants & contracts

  • 2017: HEFCE Catalyst Fund: Embedding and sustaining inclusive STEM practices (co-applicant, Plymouth University Project Lead): £480,050
  • 2017: Pedagogic research and Teaching Innovation Fund (PRTI) (co-applicant with Dr Charlotte Braungardt): £6,974
  • 2017: Pedagogic research and Teaching Innovation Fund (PRTI) (co-applicant with Dr Anne Plessis and Dr Mark Farnworth): £2,030
  • 2014: Plymouth University Teaching Fellowship Award Scheme (PUTFAS): £9,441
  • 2014: Centre for Sustainable Development Small Grants Award (co-applicant with Dr Paul Lunt): £1,000
  • 2014: US National Science Foundation:Enhancing Accessibility in the Geoscience: A Field-Based Workshop for Accommodating Students with Disabilities (co applicant / External Evaluator): $68,729

Feig, A.D., Atchison, C.L., Stokes, A. & Gilley, B. (2019) Achieving inclusive field-based education: results and recommendations from an accessible geoscience field trip. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 19 (2), 66-87. DOI: 10.14434/josotl.v19i1.23455.

Stokes, A. & Harmer, N. (2018) The value of 'having a go': trialling a project-based learning activity to inform curriculum design. Journal of Geoscience Education, 66 (4), 278-292. DOI: 10.1080/10899995.2018.1509599

Gibson, H., Stewart, I., Pahl, S. & Stokes, A. (2016) A 'mental models' approach to the communication of subsurface hydrology and hazards. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. DOI: 10.5194/hess-2015-542

Harmer, N. & Stokes, A. (2016) “Choice may not necessarily be a good thing”: Student attitudes to autonomy in interdisciplinary project-based learning in GEES disciplines. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 40 (4), 531-545. DOI: 10.1080/03098265.2016.1174817

Gilley, B., Atchison, C., Feig, A & Stokes, A. (2015) Impact of inclusive field trips. Nature Geoscience, 8 (8), 579-580. DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2500

Stokes, A., Roberts, C., Crowley, K. & McEwen, L. (2015) Methods of knowledge exchange and learning focused on local authorities' experiences of flood science communication. International Journal of Science Education, Part B: Communication and Public Engagement, 5 (2), 114-138. DOI: 10.1080/21548455.2013.855835

Stokes, A. & Atchison, C. (2015) Getting out more. Geoscientist, 25 (4), 16-19.

Harmer, N. & Stokes, A. (2014) The benefits and challenges of project-based learning: A review of the literature. PedRIO paper 6, Plymouth University. 37p. ISSN 2052-5818. (https://www1.plymouth.ac.uk/research/pedrio/Documents/PedRIO%20Paper%206.pdf)

Petcovic, H.L., Stokes, A. & Caulkins, J.L. (2014) Geoscientists' perceptions of the value of undergraduate field education. GSA Today, 24 (7), 4-10. DOI:10.1130/GSATG1936.A.1.

McEwen, L., Stokes, A., Crowley, K. & Roberts, C. (2014) Role-play as pedagogy for expert science communication with professional stakeholders in flood risk management. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 38 (2), 277-300. DOI:10.1080.03098265.2014.911827

Stokes, A. & Feig, A.D. (2012) Considering qualitative inquiry, sociocultural theories, and complexity in the study of field-based learning. In Kastens, K.A., and Manduca, C.A. (eds) Earth and Mind II: A Synthesis of Research on Thinking and Learning in the Geosciences. Geological Society of America Special Paper 486, 177-179. DOI:10.1130/2012.2486(29)

Stokes, A., Collins, T., Maskall, J., Lea, J., Lunt, P. & Davies, S. (2012) Enabling remote access to fieldwork: gaining insight into the pedagogic effectiveness of ‘direct’ and ‘remote’ field activities. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 36(2), 197-222. DOI: 10.1080/03098265.2011.619004

Kneale, P., Sanders, M & Stokes, A. (2012) Making fieldwork resources accessible to all. Teaching Earth Sciences, 37 (1), 20-22.

Stokes, A., Magnier, K. & Weaver, R. (2011) What's the use of fieldwork? Conceptions of students and staff in geography and geology. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 35 (1), 121-141, DOI: 10.1080/03098265.2010.487203.

Stokes, A.  (2011) A phenomenographic approach to investigating students’ conceptions of geoscience as an academic discipline. In  Feig, A.D. & Stokes, A. (Eds) Qualitative Inquiry in Geoscience Education Research: Geological Society of America Special Paper 474, 23-35, DOI: 10.1130/2011.2474(03).

Feig, A.D. & Stokes, A. (Eds) (2011) Qualitative Inquiry in Geoscience Education Research. Geological Society of America Special Paper 474, 211p.

Libarkin, J. & Stokes, A. (2011) The moon has no gravity: Examples of idea mixing in explanations of physical processes. Planet, 24, 50-54.

Wirth, K.R., Goodge, J., Perkins, D. & Stokes, A. (2011) An excursion to the classic bedrock localities of northeastern Minnesota with a focus on teaching and learning in the field. Geological Society of America Field Guide 24, 483–503, DOI:10.1130/2011.0024(24).

Cotton, D.R.E., Stokes, A. & Cotton, P.A. (2010) Using observational methods to research the student experience.  Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 34 (3), 463-473, DOI: 10.1080/03098265.2010.501541.

Stokes, A. & Boyle, A.P. (2009) The undergraduate geoscience fieldwork experience: influencing factors and implications for learning.  In Whitmeyer, S.J., Mogk, D.W. & Pyle, E.J. (eds) Field Geology Education: Historical Perspectives and Modern Approaches. Geological Society of America Special Paper 461, 291-311, DOI:10.1130/2009.2461(23).

Boyle, A.P., Ryan, P. & Stokes, A. (2009) External drivers for changing fieldwork practices and provision in the UK and Ireland.   In Whitmeyer, S.J., Mogk, D.W. & Pyle, E.J. (eds) Field Geology Education: Historical Perspectives and Modern Approaches. Geological Society of America Special Paper 461, 313-321, DOI: 10.1130/2009.2461(24).

Maskall, J. & Stokes, A. (2008) Designing Effective Fieldwork for the Environmental and Natural Sciences. GEES Subject Centre Teaching and Learning Guide. 77p. ISBN: 978-1-84102-201-7. (http://www.gees.ac.uk/pubs/guides/eesguides.htm#GEESfwGuide)

Stokes, A., King, H. & Libarkin, J. (2007) Research in science education: threshold concepts. Journal of Geoscience Education, v55 (5), 434-438.

Maskall, J., Stokes, A., Truscott, J.B., Bridge, A., Magnier, K. & Calderbank, V. (2007) Supporting fieldwork using information technology.  Planet, v18, GEES Subject Centre, 18-21.

Stokes, A. (2006) Quantification as a troublesome concept in the GEES disciplines. Planet Special Edition 17, GEES Subject Centre, 18-20 (http://www.gees.ac.uk/pubs/planet/index.htm#P17 ).


Reports & invited lectures

Stokes, A. (2019) "Knowing that there's going to be uncertainty is a certainty in itself": Working towards inclusive and accessible geoscience field education. Cardiff University, 21st March 2019. 

Stokes, A. (2019) "Knowing that there's going to be uncertainty is a certainty in itself": Working towards inclusive and accessible geoscience field education. Undergraduate Field Education Research Network (UFERN) webinar, 13th March 2019.

Stokes, A. & Gibson, K. (2010) The A-level student experience of residential fieldwork: Slapton Ley, 2008. Report to the Field Studies Centre, Slapton Ley, 42p.

Boyle, A.P. & Stokes, A. (2010) The student fieldwork experience: Influencing factors and implications for learning. EGU General Assembly, Vienna, 4th May 2010.

Stokes, A. (2009) The joys of mapping: researching the UK fieldwork experience. Department of Geology, Central Michigan University, 4th November 2009.

Stokes, A. (2009) Researching field cognition: a UK perspective. Department of Geoscience, Michigan State University, 29th October 2009.

Stokes, A. (2009) Researching undergraduate fieldwork: a UK perspective. Department of Geosciences Colloquium, University of Calgary, 15th October 2009.

Stokes, A., King, H. & Libarkin, J. (2008) Threshold concepts: un-stuffing the geoscience curriculum. Geological Society of America (GSA), Houston, USA.

Stokes, A. (2007) What on EARTH do your students think they're doing? A UK perspective on geoscience education research. CRCSTL (Centre for Research into College Science Teaching and Learning) Research Seminar, Michigan State University, 8th November 2007.

Other academic activities

Conference sessions organised / chaired

  • Geoscience Field Education: The Implications of Research and Practice for Workforce Development. Geological Society of America (GSA), Vancouver, Canada (2014)
  • GEES 11: Teaching and learning for GEES students. GEES Subject Centre, Birmingham, UK (2011)
  • Geoscience Education II. Geological Society of America (GSA), Portland, USA (2009)
  • Geocognition: Researching student learning in the geosciences. Geological Society of America (GSA), Houston, USA (2008)

Contributions to peer review

  • Journal of Geoscience Education
  • Journal of Geography in Higher Education
  • Geological Society of America Special Publications
  • Geosphere
  • Planet (GEES Subject Centre publication)
  • GSA Today
  • Area
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Education Research Grants
  • GEES Learning and Teaching Development Fund awards
  • National Geographic Society Education Grants