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Temporal Learning Journal Club Findings

Grand Canyon Trail of Time
Marker at the beginning of the Trail of Time, Grand Canyon National Park. National Park Service photo.

This summary was compiled by Carol Ormand, Science Education Resource Center.

From January to May, 2011, the Temporal Learning Journal Club met once a month to explore the cognitive underpinnings of understanding geologic time by discussing readings from the geoscience and cognitive science literature. Our key findings from each meeting are summarized below.

Jump down to discussions of

Themes from our first meeting, on temporal concepts and challenges:

For discussion:

  • Libarkin et al. (2007). College student conceptions of geological time and the disconnect between ordering and scale. Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 55, p. 413-422.
  • Trend, Roger David (2001). Deep time framework: A preliminary study of U.K. primary teachers' conceptions of geological time and perceptions of geoscience. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, v. 38, n. 2, p. 191–221.
  • Dodick, J. and N. Orion (2006). Building an Understanding of Geological Time: in Earth and Mind, Manduca and Mogk (Eds.). p. 77-94. Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO.

Optional background readings:

  • Zen, E-An (2001). What is Deep Time and why should anyone care? Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 49, n. 1, p. 5-9.
  • Kieffer, Susan W. (2000). Geology, The Bifocal Science: in The Earth Around Us: Maintaining a Livable Planet, ed. by Jill Schneiderman, Chapter 1, pp. 2-17, Freeman Press.

Themes from our second meeting, on the cognitive processes essential to learning temporal geoscience concepts:

  • Shipley, Thomas F. (2007) An invitation to an event: in Understanding Events: From Perception to Action, Shipley and Zacks (Eds.). Chapter 1. Oxford University Press.
  • Resnick, Atit, and Shipley (in prep). Teaching geologic events to understand geologic time.
  • Casasanto, D. (2010). Space for thinking: in Language, Cognition, and Space: State of the art and new directions. V. Evans & P. Chilton (Eds.). p. 453-478. Equinox Publishing, London, UK.

A conceptual representation of one, one thousand, one million, and one billion cubes. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Recommendations for using analogies to teach about geologic time, from our third meeting:

For discussion:

  • Clary and Wandersee (2009) How old? Tested and trouble-free ways to convey geologic time. Science Scope, Dec. 2009, p. 62-66.
  • Wenner et al. (2011) Teaching Quantitative Skills in the Geosciences: Deep Time and Big Numbers and Scientific Notation.
  • Thompson and Opfer (2010) How 15 hundred is like 15 cherries: Effect of progressive alignment on representational changes in numerical cognition. Child Development, v. 81, n. 6, p. 1768-1786.
  • Jee et al. (2010) Analogical Thinking in Geoscience Education. Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 58, n. 1, pp. 2-13.

Optional background reading:

  • Jones et al. (2009) Concepts of scale held by students with visual impairment. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, v. 46, n. 5, pp. 506-519.

Geologic time, clock view
Geologic time mapped onto a 12-hour clock face.

Themes from our fourth meeting, on strategies for teaching about geologic time:

  • Frodeman, R. (1995). Geological reasoning: Geology as an interpretive and historical science. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 107, 960-968.
  • Miller, M. (2001). Regional Geology as a Unifying Theme and Springboard to Deep Time. Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 49, n. 1, pp. 10-17.
  • Thomas, Robert C. (2001). Learning Geologic Time in the Field. Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 49, n. 1, p. 18-21.
  • Teed, R. Using An Earth History Approach to Teach Geoscience.
The Matanuka Glacier and River re-shape the Alaskan landscape. Photo by Carol Ormand.

Cognitive challenges in learning and teaching about geologic time:

Recommended strategies:

We recommend the following teaching strategies, with the caveat that we have no assessment data on their effectiveness. These recommendations are based on our attempts to address the challenges enumerated above:

Themes from our fifth meeting, on teaching temporal concepts in geoscience

For discussion:

  • Mogk, D. Earth System Science Temporal Vocabularies.
  • Wood, Warren (1997). Fluxes as a new Paradigm for Geoscience Education. Ground Water, v. 35, n. 1 (Jan-Feb), p. 1.
  • Middleton, G.V. (1973). Jonannes Walthers Law of the Correlation of Facies. Geol. Soc. of America Bulletin, v. 84, p. 979-988.
  • Rance, Hugh. The Present is the Key to the Past , particularly the section on Walther's Law.
  • Parker, J. D. (2011). Using Google Earth to Teach the Magnitude of Deep Time. Journal of College Science Teaching, v. 40, n. 5, p. 23-27.

Optional background reading:

  • Wolman and Miller (1960). Magnitude and Frequency of Forces in Geomorphic Processes. Journal of Geology, v. 68, n. 1, p. 54-74.
Takla Makan Desert, China
The Takla Makan Desert is China's largest desert, situated in the middle of the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang Province. It is one of the largest 'shifting-sand' deserts in the world. The remains of ancient forests and riverbeds hide amidst the desert vistas. Satellite image courtesy of GeoEye.

Essential Concepts:

Recommendations:

Remaining questions:


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