Improving Observational Skills
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection
This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are
- Scientific Accuracy
- Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
- Pedagogic Effectiveness
- Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
- Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page
For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: Apr 16, 2013
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description and Teaching Materials
My plan is to show more photographs using this "pre" and "post" process to see if I can further improve the observational skills of my students. I plan to show the photographs prior to our class discussion of a topic and then again after we have discussed the subject. In some cases the student observations of the photograph will be individual, while other times the photographs will be discussed in a small group. My hope is that students will be interested in the photographs and will be motivated to learn more about the topic as well as improving their observational skills.
Some of the activities will involve asking students to simply record what they see. Other activities will involve comparing two photographs, such as the time-series photographs of the glaciers in Glacier National Park by the USGS. Some of the photographs will be used in conjunction with the topic to be discussed that day; others will be discussed later in the quarter. I plan to do this activity one to two times per week.
Some of student observations will be unstructured and in other cases I will ask specific questions to guide the students. Here are some possible questions that I could use to guide students:
- What is the horizontal width of the image at its widest point in inches, feet, or miles?
- Are the rocks in this photograph igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic?
- What is the evidence for erosion by running water, wind, glaciers, or mass movement in this image?
- In what ways are the biological aspects of this image related to the physical aspects?
- Contrast the two images. What processes are most likely responsible for the differences you observed in the two images?
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Teaching Notes and Tips
The responses from the students will be informal feedback aobut the students' initial pre-instructional ideas and what they have learned from the lectures prior to an examination.