Department of Geology and Astronomy, West Chester UniversityHomepage
What are the key issues related to the role of the affective domain in teaching geoscience that you would like to engage at the workshop?
- What learning goals for our students lie within the affective domain? How should this shape how and what we teach? In general, what are some best practices for having students learn about learning and the affective domain? Are there ways that teaching faculty could/should partner with staff in Student Affairs to meet institutional educational objectives?
- Hierarchical taxonomies of educational objectives, such as that by Krathwohl and others for the affective domain, can easily be viewed as benchmarks for personal development - is this a misinterpretation? What do we really mean by a taxonomy of objectives and how do we implement them appropriately in teaching? Are the elements of the affective domain really hierarchical, as formulated by Krathwohl or others? If yes, then what is the nature of this hierarchy? How can we use or teach about a hierarchy in ways that are respectful of all students and that do not lead to status issues among students?
- How separate are the cognitive and affective domains? Do we discuss two domains because they are a convenient construct to organize knowledge of human psychology, or are there fundamental differences? If they are truly separate, to what extent are the cognitive and affective domains connected? Is it beneficial to create and strengthen connections, and if so, what are some best practices for student learning?
- To what extent is it necessary to incorporate the affective domain within assessments of student learning? What are some best practices for assessment of the affective domain? How do we conduct research on the affective domain and student learning?
- What role is played by human attitudes and values, both in living on earth and in learning about the earth? What frameworks exist, or can be created, for analyzing people's attitudes and values about the earth? How do student attitudes and values about the earth shape their reception of our geoscience courses, their interest in geoscience, and their sense of responsibility toward the earth?
- When we discuss issues of motivation in the workshop, I would like to consider recruitment of students into geoscience courses and majors, as well.
I have some background in cooperative learning (CL), having both taken and helped to facilitate 4-day workshops on cooperative learning led by an international expert in the field (and WCU colleague in the College of Education), Dr. Lynda Baloche. Lynda and I prepared an article for the Teaching Mineralogy workshop volume, and we are in the process of updating this article. I will upload the revised version, with an updated bibliography, to the SERC website before the workshop in February. I have led sessions on CL at previous workshops with varying success, but I have a plan for an introduction to the essential elements of CL in a 60-minute format. Given the workshop topic, people may be very familiar with cooperative learning and may not be interested in such a session, but I would be willing to facilitate one if desired. Also, I have begun to assess the role of cooperative identification exams in my mineralogy course in achieving cognitive and affective domain objectives (please see my essay for more information). I started with an informal student survey of behaviors and reflection in fall 2004, developed some emergent themes from the results, and consulted with colleagues in social psychology and educational measurement to develop more extensive surveys administered in fall 2005. I was particularly interested in how interacting during studying was different from interacting while taking the cooperative exams, and whether and how the cooperative exams contributed to the students' knowledge, confidence, and the learning environment. I would like to share my results so far, and discuss how to assess the affective domain goals when we assess student learning.
At GSA this October, Dr. Tim Lutz (a colleague in the geology/astronomy department at WCU) and I presented a poster describing how we incorporate some aspects of the affective domain into introductory-level, general education courses. We have adapted a values framework by Stephen Kellert to help students develop a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which people perceive, interact with, and value the natural world. In an interdisciplinary environmental course (Lutz), the values framework helps students see "hidden" values and provides counterbalance and alternatives to the prevailing economic viewpoint. For example, students understand cost-benefit analysis to justify resource development (utilitarian value of Kellert). However, people living near the resource may argue that the inherent sanctity of the land and ecosystem (moralistic value), the beauty of the land (aesthetic value), or the connection of their community with the land/ecosystem (humanistic value) must be accounted for and may outweigh economic benefits. In a course on volcanoes (Srogi), Kellert's values provide a vocabulary and schema to analyze attitudes of people living with geological hazards. Students also use the values framework to evaluate the effectiveness of hazard mitigation and evacuation strategies. In a final essay, students express how working with the values framework deepens their understanding of human responses to the natural world and its hazards. The poster has been uploaded to the GSA website (http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2006AM/finalprogram/abstract_114580.htm), and I can bring a version to share in the workshop, along with Kellert's book. I can also bring excerpts of the student essays for analysis of students' attitudes about nature, natural hazards, and geoscience.
Stephen Kellert (1996) The Value of Life. Washington, DC: Island Press.
Essay: Cooperative Learning and Institutional Goals for Student Development
The affective domain is critical in defining institutional-level goals for student development. The Assistant VP for Student Affairs at my university listed our goals as: Intellectual Development (reasoning, critical thinking); Identity Development (autonomy, integrity, sense of self); Interpersonal Development (socialization, respecting others); Values Development (role in society, acts based on values, respecting rights of others). How I teach is an important part of meeting my university's goals. Research in cooperative learning (e.g., Johnson et al., 1996) indicates that positive peer relationships are essential to success in school and help students learn, that isolation and alienation are predictors of failure; thus, cooperative interaction connects the affective and cognitive domains.
I have been using cooperative exams for mineral identification since 1991, and began to survey students to assess the cooperative exams in 2004-05. Cooperative exams are more than "can you identify the correct mineral." By emphasizing diagnostic properties and hypothesis testing, exams help build skills in critical thinking and reasoning from evidence. Students must defend their observations and conclusions to their peers, and develop confidence in their process of identification. Cooperative exams promote a positive learning environment as students work together, learning to listen to and respect others' opinions. The "no mooching" policy helps students toward the recognition that it's not about what others can provide them, but what learning can be achieved for all when everyone participates. Cooperative exam goals related to the affective domain include: that students will increase knowledge sharing, build community, gain insight into what they know and how they know it, and develop confidence and a sense of personal authority about their knowledge. Preliminary results from the quantitative data show that cooperation during the exam is important: students test mineral properties, listen to others' ideas, ask questions, and propose their own ideas more during the cooperative exam than when studying together. They report greater confidence in knowledge, inquiry, and communication when they take the exam together, particularly in justifying their ideas with evidence. Students' responses to open-ended questions are more variable. I plan to analyze the responses using a framework related to the affective domain (e.g., Krathwohl et al., 1964), and hope to share results at the workshop, and discuss methods of assessing goals in the affective domain.
Although not rigorously assessed, I find that an identification activity with assigned roles is key to building positive interdependence among students before the exams. I observe students' behaviors in the first week and then assign groups and a specific role to each group member for the mineral identification activity. The people who did not handle the materials or speak out much initially become the tester/presenters, actively testing the mineral properties and then reporting out to the class. The people who were most active and vocal become the recorders, and practice listening to the testers and the fact-checkers. In semesters when I did NOT structure these activities and assign roles, it seemed to take longer for equitable participation in the groups to become established, such as sharing materials, listening to all viewpoints, and soliciting and answering questions. Used judiciously, more structured learning activities may have benefits for student learning goals in the affective domain.
Krathwohl, D.R., Bloom, B.S., & Masia, B.B. (1964) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. The Classification of Educational Goals, Handbook II: Affective Domain. New York: David McKay Company, Inc.
Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T., and Smith, K.A. (1998) Cooperative learning returns to college. Change, vol. 30, p. 26-35.