Teach the Earth > Petrology > Teaching Activities > Petrology Knowledge Survey

Petrology Knowledge Survey

Jane Selverstone
University of New Mexico
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This knowledge survey, given three times during a semester, allows students to track their own learning of petrologic material and also serves as a useful study guide.

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This survey is given in an undergraduate course in Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology that also includes a crash course in Optical Mineralogy. The course is required for Earth & Planetary Science majors, encouraged for Environmental Science majors, and is also sometimes taken by Science Education undergrads and by Archeology grad students. Course enrollment ranges from 12 to 25 students per year

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

None. The survey is a preview of most of the material that we will cover during the semester, and my expectation at the start of the semester is that most students will have little to no confidence in their ability to answer the questions. By the end of the semester, I expect all students to be able to answer most of the questions with a high level of confidence.

How the activity is situated in the course

The survey is given three times during the semester: once during the first week, again at mid-semester, and a final time during the last week of classes. The survey is ungraded, and I administer it on WebCT.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The main goal is for students to take responsibility for their own learning. The survey gives them a preview of the topics we will cover, and an idea of the level of understanding that I expect them to develop. As the semester progresses, students are able to see for themselves that they are gaining knowledge and understanding, and they can also see their own weaknesses and areas where deeper understanding is required.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

The survey includes a summary of Bloom's Taxonomy, and gives the students a rough idea of the level of each question. I tell them at the start that my goal for them by the end of the semester is for them to be able to approach petrologic material at all levels of Bloom's Taxonomy.

Other skills goals for this activity


Description of the activity/assignment

This knowledge survey previews all of the key topics that we will cover during a one-semester course in petrology, and allows students to track their own learning over the course of the semester. Students do not actually answer the questions on the survey - rather, they think about whether or not they *could* answer each question. By taking the survey three times during the semester, they can gauge their own progress in the course. The survey also serves as a study guide for exams in the class.

Determining whether students have met the goals

The assignment is ungraded. The goals are met at the end of the semester when students see for themselves how much material they learned in the course.

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