On the Cutting Edge - Professional Development for Geoscience Faculty
Student Motivations and Attitudes: The Role of the Affective Domain in Geoscience Learning
Carleton College, Northfield, MN
Cutting Edge > Affective Domain > Workshop 07 > Workshop Program

Workshop Program

5:00 PM Welcome and Opening Reception

Icebreaker activity: Gallery walk
Workshop participants worked in small groups and responded to various teaching dilemmas involving the affective domain. The three gallery walk cases and the participants' responses are below.
6:15 Dinner

7:15 Opening Remarks and Discussion: What is the affective domain, and what are the key issues?

7:45 Opening plenary talk—
Title slide from Tom Koballa's presentation: Affective Domain and Key Issues
Affective Domain and Key Issues (PowerPoint 223kB Feb20 07)
Thomas Koballa
, Department of Mathematics and Science Education, University of Georgia

Monday, February 12, 2007


Morning topic: Understanding and Improving Student Motivation


8:15-9:00 Opening remarks, Gallery walk
See the questions and responses from the Gallery Walk.

Case study presentation

Meeting the learning goals with a "below average" course (PowerPoint 150kB Feb20 07)
by Jeff Johnston
, Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University

Read Jeff's Dilemma and responses from workshop participants.



Panel Presentations addressing issues raised in the Johnston case
Title slide from Eric Pyle's presentation, Internal and External Aspects of Motivation
Internal and External Aspects of Motivation (PowerPoint 332kB Feb20 07)
Eric Pyle
, Department of Geology & Environmental Science, James Madison University
Title slide from Jenefer Husman's presentation, Thinking About Motivation
Thinking About Motivation (PowerPoint 139kB Feb20 07)
Jenefer Husman
, Psychology in Education, Arizona State University
Title Slide from Karl Wirth's presentation, Thinking About Learning: Motivating Students to Develop Into Intentional Learners
Thinking About Learning: Motivating Students to Become Intentional Learners (PowerPoint 720kB Feb20 07)
Karl Wirth
, Department of Geology, Macalester College

10:15-10:30 Break

10:30-11:30 Small Groups

Small groups of 2-3 write solutions to Jeff Johnston's case study based on different scenarios
Read other dilemmas and solutions about student motivation

11:30-12:00 Report out, discussion and synthesis

Summary of Motivation Discussion

What are the important ideas we want to remember or share with our colleagues?

There are a lot of reasons why students might not be motivated-and a number of potential solutions. A case-by-case approach is important.

  • Student motivation is influenced by their backgrounds
  • There may be social or cultural factors

Motivation does not equal ability and vice versa.

We are teaching students (a whole person) not just our subjects. We need to have a toolbox of strategies to work with specific classes, situations, and students.

Making goals explicit and specific is importance to building trust and respect with students.

It would be valuable to learn more about students' motivations—ask them. Use formative evaluations to see evolution of motivation.

It is important that students take responsibility for their learning. This is something we have to teach and scaffold (including taking away the scaffolds and letting them work with hard experiences). How and when should we use the "tough love" approach? What is the role of the development process? They need to learn how to manage affective responses (e.g. boredom).

We need more rewards, tools and pedagogic approaches to effectively address the affective domain.

We need to examine our assumptions about our students (before and during courses).

Motivation is a big thing. Motivation is not a simple construct. Students have a lot of motives (within a single student) that work on different granularities within the class and change through time. It is important to accept students' motives as valid. Motivation is not a linear scale.

Motivation is a process and is dependent on student development (ala Perry). How are going to address/steer this process?

How well do students recover from failure? How is resilience a measure of motivation? If a person can take failure and feedback and do something with it, that is a positive life-skill. It would be helpful if there were some tools so that we can tell if we are doing this or just crushing them.

Motivation is a precursor to learning. Is ability to learn an indicator of sufficient motivation for us?

Need and curiosity are mechanisms for creating motivation.

A construct is a concept within a theory. Constructs are systems of ideas or concepts addressing a part of behavior. Motivation is a domain of research. We need to be talking at the level of constructs not about motivation as a whole.

Next steps and things to think about

How can we motivate students to take our courses?

We can help students to better understand their affective component.

Why is failure in classroom different than failure in learning sport or failure in a game? What is difference between comfortable, productive failure and uncomfortable failure? What is difference between failure in learning and negative results in research/inquiry?

What language or metalanguage are we using that create barriers?

Assessing affective domain-what are we asking, and how do we interpret responses? What tools do we have and what still needs to be developed? What are our goals and objectives? Are these measurements of change in affective constructs useful or suitable for evaluation of learning?

What is the difference between motivation and a 'perfect' student? What is the role of student development in their motivation/response to class?


12:00-1:15 Lunch

Afternoon topic: Understanding and Improving Student Attitudes


1:15-1:30 Introduction to Attitudes

1:30-2:15 Small groups
Write teaching dilemmas about student attitude, comfort level and fear

2:15-2:30 Break

2:30-4:00 Panel addressing student attitudes, comfort and fear

Kathie Owens, Curricular and Instructional Studies, University of Akron

Interactive exercise for workshop participants

Match up the retention rate with the type of material retained.

Material retained:

  • nonsense syllables/jargon
  • facts
  • concepts
  • motor skills
  • thinking skills & processes of information
  • attitudes about self & subject
Percent retention:
  • 10%
  • 35%
  • 50%
  • 70%
  • 80%
  • 100%
  • nonsense syllables/ jargon = 10%
  • facts = 35%
  • concepts = 50%
  • motor skills = 70%
  • thinking skills & processes of information = 80%
  • attitudes about self & subject = 100%
These findings are from a compilation of studies done in educational psychology in the 1950's. Second graders who were taught fractions, a concept normally thought to be too difficult for them, using manipulatives showed impressive retention. College zoology, taught using rote memory, resulted in lack of retention of content even over a short time. A college psychology course yielded similar results compared to the zoology group. Reasoning skills were assessed in another zoology class as much as a year after instruction with retention at high levels. I invite readers to supply any evidence they can to substantiate or refute these ideas on retention over time. Most teachers, with whom I have shared these findings, tell me that they are "intuitively" and experientially accurate.

Title slide from Matthew Nyman's talk: A Laboratory for Investigating  the Affective Domain: Teaching Science to Teachers A Laboratory for Investigating the Affective Domain: Teaching Science to Teachers (PowerPoint 533kB Feb20 07)
Matthew Nyman
, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of New Mexico

Title slide from Alan Boyle's presentation: Why Groups?
Why Groups? (PowerPoint 712kB Feb20 07)
Alan Boyle
, Department of Earth & Ocean Sciences, University of Liverpool
Title slide from Kelly Rocca's presentation, Immediacy in the Classroom: Research and Practical Implications
Immediacy in the Classroom: Research and Practical Implications
Kelly Rocca
, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, St. John's University

4:00-5:00 Small Groups
Groups of 2-3 write solutions to dilemmas about student attitude, comfort level and fear
Read dilemmas and solutions about student attitudes.

5:00-5:30 Report out, discussion and synthesis

Summary of Attitude Discussion

It's useful to help students understand their own affect.

Make a distinction between attitudes toward science and scientific attributes/values.

Recognize the importance of helping students self-identify the values they hold that make them similar to scientists/geoscientists—this is one of the things they learn in studying geoscience.

Consider the role of an attitude of wonder, beauty, awe, concern about the earth, or curiosity. These emotions play an important role in the solutions to dilemmas. Students may perceive science as esoteric and irrelevant.

There is a perception that geosciences are still dominated by white males.

Help students understand that science ability is incrementally learned as opposed to innate. This underlies our ability to teach and students' ability to learn.

Ideas to explore further:

The distinction between attitudes toward science and scientific attributes/values

Demonstrate to students our values and encourage them to value them too.

Concern that students question our motivations, which is linked to understanding of nature of science, stereotypes, and that scientists are people with multiple facets.

Role of our own self-stereotypes

There is a prestige associated with being a scientist; and scientists are perceived as credible. As educators we can recognize these positive perceptions and capitalize on them.

How do you deal with faculty who aren't convinced that students attitudes are important?

To what extent are attitude problems resulting from issues earlier in the education system. How do we address this? What is the role of parents?

What is the importance of communities and social networks on campus as a mechanism for influencing attitude? We can also help create these networks. Group work in classes is an example of a starting point. We do this really well as geoscience departments because we typically have strong communities.

Recruiting students into courses is a big issue that we still need to talk about. Barriers to recruitment are related to fear of math, chemistry and physics. There is a perception that only really smart people can do science. Consider what it means to be able to do science.
What are job prospects?
Recruit by showing how students can put their science to use in interesting and useful ways.

Students don't perceive themselves as users of geology. We may be missing a focus on developing consumers of geologic information.

Geoscience is not often taught in high school, but it is taught in middle school. So we need to capitalize on middle school experiences.

Role of geoscience in the media.

How to evaluate balance between lecture and interaction; supporting students vs. letting them struggle ("tough love").


7:00 Dinner on the town

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Morning topic: Teaching Controversial Topics


8:15-9:00 Opening remarks, Gallery walk

8:30-9:15 Small groups
Pose dilemmas about teaching controversial topics

9:15-10:15
Title slide from Claudia Khourey-Bowers' presentation: Using Structured Academic Controversy to Address Beliefs about Evolution
Using Structured Academic Controversy to Address Beliefs about Evolution (PowerPoint 30kB Feb20 07)
Claudia Khourey-Bowers
, Teaching Leadership and Curriculum Studies, Kent State University - Stark
(40 minute presentation, then time for group discussion)
A thumbnail image from a video demonstrating the Structured Academic Controversy technique
See video clips from the structured academic controversy presentation.
Additional materials for structured academic controversy
10:15 - 10:30 Break

10:30-11:30 Small groups
Groups of 2-3 write solutions to dilemmas about controversial or other topics
Read dilemmas and solutions about teachings controversial topics.

11:30-12:00 Report out, discussion and synthesis

Teaching Controversial Topics—workshop synthesis discussion

What are the important ideas we want to remember or share with our colleagues?

This is an important and useful thing to do because it engages students.

Need to teach content knowledge to provide material that moves out of emotional realm and into argument.

The instructor needs to have respect for people with opposing views.

It is important to provide a foundation of the nature of science upon which the discussion can be built.

Controversy within science is also subject to personal bias

Uncertainty, the ways that scientists work with uncertainty, and learning to make decisions based on limited and uncertain data are important aspects of learning that can be facilitated through teaching controversial topics.

Need to help students understand that they can hold dichotomous views. We need strategies for this. This is part of developing intellect.

An environment of trust is needed to learn how to disagree and argue based on evidence.
Fear and alienation blocks cognitive thought.

Fear reaction related to outcome of evolution or to outcome of environmental issues can block learning.

One approach is to break up the topic of evolution into 1) origin of life 2) evolution as a modern process and 3) evolution of hominids.

Need to be careful to respect range of beliefs and non-beliefs both in our teaching and in our description of situations and responses.

Acknowledge that some of the students' fears are real with respect to loss of faith including loss of community/family.

Using pedagogic methods that can provide security and emotional distance (a safe place) assigned role playing was a good example of this.

"An Inconvenient Truth" is a good example of the use of the affective domain in making an argument. However there are additional issues with Al Gore as a political figure and showing the film in class due to that.


12:00-1:15 Lunch

1:15-1:45 Whole group discussion
What are some key themes, important lessons learned, areas in need of attention and other issues still to be discussed?

1:45-2:45 Small group discussions

2:45-3:00 Break

3:00 - 5:00 Small group work time
Workshop participants self-organized into working groups focused on two products:


5:00-5:30 Closing discussion, evaluation

7:00 Group dinner at Chapati: Cuisine of India, 214 Division Street


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