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Affective Domain Dilemmas

This collection of dilemmas began at the February 2007 Workshop as a way of harnessing the collective expertise of the participants to help each other figure out how best to deal with scenarios and situations that commonly arise in the geoscience classroom. A short write-up of the "dilemma method" was presented at the October 2007 POD workshop on the Affective Domain in teaching and learning, where further solutions to the dilemmas were written.


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Al's bandwagon part of Dilemmas
In the eight person seminar class is an inquisitive, nontraditional, student who is a motivated popular science reader. This student challenges the conclusions made by the vocal majority of scientists that global warming is caused by human activity.

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Teaching Controversial Subjects:Climate Change

Is planetary change bad? part of Dilemmas
We hear about global warming as a problem and there is a reasonable consensus that humans are exacerbating the problem. Our global population is currently about 6 billion, and scientists estimate that the planet's capacity to sustain ends at about 12 to 15 billion. Doubling time is 38 years. Next examine the core profile. Tundra pollen lies in the lowest layers, sage and prairie grasses in the middle and spruce and pine pollen in the top.

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Teaching Controversial Subjects:Climate Change

Water Conservation versus Ecosystem Preservation part of Dilemmas
Nearly all of the water in the Colorado River system is removed for agricultural, industrial, and residential uses before it reaches the mouth of the river. However, the water delivery system in southern Arizona and California has a number of leaks (mostly seepage through the bottom of unlined canals), by which some of the water moves through the subsurface and back into the lower reaches of the river, sustaining a limited ecosystem in the Colorado River Delta.

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Teaching Controversial Subjects

Gender Dynamics part of Dilemmas
A Geosciences program and classes has few to no female students in them. One female faculty wants to expand the diversity of the program. She then teaches an introductory course to increase enrollment of female students. This course however is full of students who hold the following attitudes:

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Student Attitudes

Too Cool for Science part of Dilemmas
On a frigid Minnesota afternoon, I had just finished a mini-lecture in my introductory class, and I threw out a question to the whole class. Chris responded enthusiastically with a wonderful and correct contribution. At which point, Sam groaned and said, in a voice audible to the entire class,"suck up!" A few other eyes rolled, and other hands that had been raised were slowly lowered.

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Student Attitudes

Meteorology Professor Bob part of Dilemmas
In an upper-level meteorology class, Meteorology Professor Bob introduces complex equations including calculus. A growing body of students strongly resist using mathematical skills that should have been mastered in the prerequisite mathematics courses. The instructor explains the context and necessity of these equations for understanding meteorology at the upper-division level. A common statement of students is: "I don't do math." Students insist they love meteorology but dislike math and lobby the department head for a graphical approach without the use of equations.

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Student Attitudes

Karl the Tree Hugger part of Dilemmas
Karl has been assigned to you as an advisee, and you have never met him and have no information on him other than what the registrar shares. He is obviously smart (he received a "5" on the AP Environmental Science exam). He has made an appointment with you to discuss a program of study.

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Student Motivation, Student Attitudes

Transforming Attitudes and Killing Interest in Introductory Geology Classes for Majors part of Dilemmas
Students enter Physical Geology with great interest in geology regardless of declared major or academic rank. Approximately 70% of students (n=306) declared a high level of interest in multiple aspects of geosciences. However, at the end of the semester, less than 30% of the same population recorded a high interest in geology (regardless of declared major, academic rank).

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Student Attitudes

Fixation on grades part of Dilemmas
Each semester our university offers several large-enrollment (n ~ 220) sections of a lecture-based introductory physical geology course. Although the course can be counted toward a geological sciences major, it functions mostly as a service course that provides non-major students a science credit necessary for graduation.

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Student Motivation, Student Attitudes

Attitudes About Working in Groups versus Individually part of Dilemmas
A student comes to your office after class and states "I don't do groups." Group work is an important component of your Introductory Geology course. Teamwork is an primary learning objective of the course. Furthermore, the course is based on project-based learning, and 30% of each individual grade is calculated from group projects. What do you do? Do you require a group activity under any circumstance? Do you try to get the person to buy-in on collaborative work? Or, do we find an equitable alternative?

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Student Attitudes