Nicole D. LaDue

Research Interests

  • Spatial Thinking and geocognition
  • Visuals in science education
  • Active learning strategies
  • Promoting equity and persistence in STEM
  • K-12 earth science literacy

Currently Funded Projects

  • BELONG in STEM Scholars Program: Scholarships for Academically Talented, Financially Disadvantaged Undergraduates, National Science Foundation, NSF S-STEM Program #1834076, $1,000,000. Project started in January 2019.
  • GeoClick: The Value of Click-on-Diagram Questions for Geology, National Science Foundation EHR-DRL Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) #1835950, $300,000. Project started in October 2018.
  • IRES: US-Estonia Partnership in Reconstructing Past Climate Dynamics, NSF IRES #1827135. Project started in January 2019.
  • SL-CN: Understanding and Promoting Spatial Learning Processes in the Geosciences, National Science Foundation, EHR Science of Learning Centers #1640800. Project started in August 2016.

Graduate Students

NIU is one of few institutions offering geoscience graduate degrees with an emphasis on geoscience education. M.S. and Ph.D. students in my research group will be required to complete education research methodology and statistics coursework appropriate to their project. I encourage applications from students with an undergraduate or M.S. degree in the geosciences. Students with unique backgrounds in teaching, psychology, etc. will be required to complete geoscience coursework to ensure their content knowledge is well grounded in the geosciences. It may also be possible to pursue secondary teacher licensure concurrently while completing an extended M.S. program.

Please contact me for more information about my current research activities and student funding opportunities.

Selected Publications

LaDue, N. D., Ackerman, J. R., Blaum, D., and Shipley, T. F. (2021). Assessing Water Literacy: Undergraduate Student Conceptions of Groundwater and Surface Water Flow. Water, 13(5), 622. 

LaDue, N. D., McNeal, P. M., Ryker, K., St. John, K., and van der Hoeven Kraft, K. J. (2021). Using an engagement lens to model active learning in the geosciences. Journal of Geoscience Education, 1-33. 

James, N. M., Kreager, B. Z., and LaDue, N. D. (2021). Predict-observe-explain activities preserve introductory geology students’ self-efficacy. Journal of Geoscience Education, 1-12.  

Lombardi, D., Shipley, T. F., Astronomy Team (Bailey, J. M, Bretones, P. S., Prather, E. E.), Biology Team (Ballen, C. J., Knight, J. K., Smith,, M. K.), Chemistry Team (Stowe, R. L., Cooper, M. M.), Engineering Team (Prince, M.), Geography Team (Atit, K., Uttal, D. H.), Geoscience Team (LaDue, N. D., McNeal, P. M., Ryker, K., St. John, K., van der Hoeven Kraft, K. J.), and Physics Team (Docktor, J. L.) (2021). The curious construct of active learning. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 22(1), 8-43. 

Rupnow, R. L., LaDue, N. D., James, N. M., and Bergan-Roller, H. E. (2020). A perturbed system: How tenured faculty responded to the COVID-19 shift to remote instruction. Journal of Chemical Education, 97(9), 2397-2407.

Kreager, B. Z., and LaDue, N. D. (2020). Seeing like a geologist: How expertise and context impact frame of reference judgments. GSA Today, 30(5).

McNeal, K., Ryker, K., Whitmeyer, S., Giorgis, S., Atkins, R., LaDue, N., Clark, C., Stoltis, N., and Pingel, T. (2019). A Multi-Institutional Study of Inquiry-Based Lab Activities using the Augmented Reality Sandbox: Impacts on Undergraduate Student Learning. Journal of Geography in Higher Education.

McNeal, P.M., Petcovic, H.P., LaDue, N.D., and Ellis, T.D. (2019) Identifying Significant Cognitive Factors for Practicing and Learning Meteorology. Journal of Operational Meteorology, 7(1).

LaDue, N.D. and Shipley T.F. (2018). Click-On-Diagram Questions: A New Tool to Study Conceptions using Classroom Response Systems. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 27(6), 492-507.

Callahan, C., LaDue, N.D., Baber, L., Sexton, J., van der Hoeven Kraft, K., and Zamani-Gallaher, E. (2017). Theoretical Perspectives on Increasing Recruitment and Retention of Underrepresented Students in the Geosciences. Journal of Geoscience Education Special Issue: Synthesizing Results and Defining Future Directions of Geoscience Education Research, 65 (4), 563-576.

Cheek, K.A., LaDue, N.D., and Shipley, T.F. (2017). Learning about Spatial and Temporal Scale: Current Research, Psychological Processes, and Classroom Implications. Journal of Geoscience Education Special Issue: Synthesizing Results and Defining Future Directions of Geoscience Education Research, 65, 455-472.

LaDue, N.D., Libarkin, J.C., and Thomas, S.R. (2015). Visual Representations on High School Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, and Physics Assessments. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 1-17.

LaDue, N.D., and Manning, C.B. (2015). Next Generation Science Standards: A Call to Action for the Geoscience Community, GSA Today, 25(2).

LaDue, N.D. and Pacheco, H.A. (2013). Critical Experiences for Geologists: Emergent Themes in Interest Development. Journal of Geoscience Education. 61(4), 428-436.

LaDue, N.D. and Clark, S.K. (2012). Educator Perspectives on Earth System Science Literacy: Challenges and Priorities. Journal of Geoscience Education, 60(4), 372-383.

Wysession, M.E., LaDue, N., Budd, D.A., Campbell, K., Conklin, M., Kappel, E., Lewis, G., Raynolds, R., Ridkey, R.W., Ross, R.M., Taber, J., Tewksbury, B., and Tuddenham, P. (2012). Developing and Applying a Set of Earth Science Literacy Principles. Journal of Geoscience Education, 60(2), 95-99.

Hambrick, D.Z., Libarkin, J., Petcovic, H.L., Baker, K.M., Elkins, J., Callahan, C.N., Turner, S.P., Rench, T.A., and LaDue, N.D. (2012). A test of the circumvention-of-limits hypothesis in scientific problem solving: The case of geological bedrock mapping. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141(2): 397-403.


  • GEOL 120 - Planet Earth
  • GEOL 401 - Clinical High School Experience in Earth and Space Science
  • GEOL 482 - Transition to Professional Science Teaching
  • GEOL 483 - Interdisciplinary Teaching of Science in Secondary Education
  • GEOL 495 - Methods in Teaching Earth and Space Science
  • GEOL 603 - Teaching Assistant Training
  • GEOL 605 - Teaching College Science

Associate Professor
Geoscience Education, Spatial Thinking, K-12 Teacher Education

Director of Earth and Space Science Educator Licensure

Davis Hall 302C

Lab resources
Lab website


Ph.D., Geological Sciences, Michigan State University, 2013
M.A.T., Secondary Science Teaching, Cornell University, 2001
B.S., Geology, University at Albany (SUNY), 1999

Contact Us

Geology and Environmental Geosciences
Davis Hall 312
815-753-1943 (tel)
815-753-1945 (fax)