Cutting Edge > Rates and Time > Workshop 2012 > Program

Workshop Program

Note: This workshop has already taken place. Presentations and workshop materials are linked in the program below.

Bateman Physical Sciences on ASU Tempe campus
Bateman Physical Sciences building at ASU-Tempe. Photo by Nikki Cassis. (Look for the big permineralized ("petrified") Araucarioxylon arizonicum tree trunk—Arizona's state fossil!—just outside the main building entrance on the south side.)

Sunday, February 26

5:00-6:00 Reception and Icebreaker at the Dietz Museum in Bateman Physical Sciences F-Wing (PSF on campus maps)

6:00-7:00 Dinner

7:00-7:30 Disciplinary perspectives panel: What do we want our students to understand about time? Why is that important?

Notes from these talks in the private participant workspace

7:30-8:30 Roundtable discussions and synthesis

  • Rates provide necessary context for decisions about sustainability
  • Perspective and frame of reference for human history and human events
  • Time is integral to understanding process (astronomical, geological, biological, environmental)
  • Time is abstract concept; understanding can help students grasp other abstract concepts
  • Important for students to understand scales of time that transcend human time
  • Important to bridge cultural differences in understanding time
  • Geology helps students better observe, reason, use evidence.
  • Understand recurrence intervals; frequency and variability (e.g., flood recurrence)
  • Students are challenged to understand and appreciate even generational time frames
  • Respect for the planet
  • Philosophical importance of deep time
  • Relationship between place and time
  • Time is a tool used to test hypotheses
  • Dispelling myths related to catastrophes, end of the world, 2012, etc.
  • We live in a constantly changing environment but changes are not all readily apparent because of different time scales
  • Time scales crucial to understanding climate change; students seem to grasp magnitudes better than rates
  • Significance of contingency in using observations of past changes to inform future predictions
  • Understand the time scales involved in actual (not SF) space travel—a truly long commute

Monday, February 27

Placing Events in Time: Timelines, Relative Dating, Numerical Dating
at the ASU Memorial Union (MU on campus maps)

8:45-9:00 Opening remarks

9:00-10:00 Computer-supported share fair: What we do

  • Pete Berquist
  • Gwen Daley
  • Brett Dooley
  • Maya Elrick
  • Sarah Gerken
  • Kathleen Gilbert and Maria Waller
  • Erika Grundstrom
  • Joann Hochstein
  • Francis Jones
  • Jessica Kapp and Phil Stokes
  • Margaret Mayer
  • Kevin Mullins
  • Roger Steinberg
  • Gina Szablewski
  • Rebecca Teed
  • Karen Viskupic
  • John Weber

10:00-11:30 Invited talks: Placing events in time

11:30-11:45 Break

11:45-12:30 Discussion: Challenges and solutions for placing events in time

See notes from each group in the workspace:
  • Group 1: Joann, Pam, Ilyse, Sarah G., and Margaret
  • Group 2: Pete, Maya, Noah, Gina, and Marguerite
  • Group 3: Erika, Roger, Cara, Susan, and Karen
  • Group 4: Francis, Kevin, John C., Kathy and Maria
  • Group 5: Gwen, Mark, Erica, May, and John W.
  • Group 6: Jessica, Phil, Brett, and Rebecca

12:30-2:00 Lunch

2:00-2:15 Individual reflection time

Rates and Durations: Deep Time, Short Time, Lengths of Times, Rates, Changes in Rates

2:15-3:30 Invited talks: Rates and durations

3:30-3:45 Break

3:45-4:45 Concurrent small group sessions:

4:45-5:45 Small group/whole group discussions on teaching about time

  • Differently prepared students - clickers can be used to level playing field
  • Assessment - backward design, importance of understanding the expert understanding to know what you want to assess.
  • Geochronology - How to build trust in radiometric ages -- start with smaller logical jumps and scaffold way to long term radiometric dating; using multiple converging lines of evidence.
  • Group 1 - Lack of familiarity with units generally makes understanding scales more difficult.
  • Group 2 - Why should someone care -- connections to cultural values and processes like energy unit -- can't understand this without understanding rates.
  • Group 3 - Local examples as motivation for understanding time scales.
  • Group 4 - A good place for starting conversations about processes is to situate learning as leading to a decision about actions.
  • Group 5 - How do we use earth's past to motivate decisions about our future -- important to establish the possibility of something (earth could be different, because it has been in the past) followed by discussion of probability.
  • Group 6 - Importance of practicing evidence-based arguing for beliefs.
  • How important it is to use analogies knowing how they work and how they fail -- loose use of analogy may be harmful - how to help students make the analogical mapping.
  • Students envision objects as unchanging where geoscientists see them as steps in a process.
  • Sequence may be easier to teach than duration.
  • Experts are facile moving from one scale of time to a radically different one -- students need more scaffolding to do this -- there are suggestions for how to scaffold this and some tools on the Rates and Time website.
  • Making estimates at various levels of accuracy and not getting stuck with the search for a more refined answer than we need.
  • The weaving together of narrative and numeric understanding to create a rich enough understanding of a time period to give it appropriate weight in our minds.
  • Individual reflection on key insights and big challenges
  • Table discussion of insights and challenges
  • Importance of a story of geological history - opportunities for creativity and outside knowledge
  • Importance of scaffolding in general (meant different things to different people)
  • Time - time analogies vs. time - space analogies: use the hour of the class; assign students to mark geologic events on this scale verbally through the hour
  • How to get people to care -- including students at higher levels and non students
  • Teaching to the difference between naive understanding versus misconceptions
  • Why do students not 'get' radiometric dating/geochronology
  • What are our learning goals - what do we want them to remember -- have to start with this, e.g.
    • Importance of teaching how scientists work - how we string together evidence
    • Need to step back and ask more basic questions - e.g. what is a clock as a basis for understanding assumptions, strengths etc.
    • How important and to what depth do we them to understand magnitude -- more important to understand that the Precambrian is long than to know its exact length?
  • Value of understanding what students know/don't know at outset to gauge level and focus of instruction -- have to know what questions to ask to be able to do this well -- how is this base level related to the learning goals for the course
  • Process of taking exams and receiving feedback helps student develop metacognition and understanding of what they know (true, false, don't know, how certain are you)
  • Research targets:
    • Does the process of deriving a clock or calculating time or dating things enhance students' ability to understand concepts of time?
    • Do they understand the diagrams we present better if they create the diagrams themselves?
    • How do different aspects of temporal understanding interconnect or not interconnect to support different geologic concepts?

5:45-6:15 Plan for tomorrow - set up working groups

Ideas for working groups:
  • Teaching geochronology/radiometric dating
  • How to estimate time
  • learning goals
  • teaching time with analogies
  • pre-course assessment
  • motivating students

6:15-6:30 Personal reflection; road check

Dinner on your own (We are hoping you will form small groups and not eat alone--we'll have recommendations for restaurants)

Tuesday, February 28

8:45-9:15 Opening remarks; establish working groups

9:15-11:30 Working group time

11:30-12:15 Reconvene and shuffle groups for feedback

12:15-1:30 Lunch - with possible worktime

EarthTime project description (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 579kB Mar2 12) - Mark Schmitz

1:30-3:00 Working group time

3:00-3:30 Break

3:30-4:00 Working group reports

4:00-4:45 Discuss synthesis report in the private participant workspace

4:45-6:00 Next steps, concluding remarks, and workshop evaluation

6:30 Dinner at Z'Tejas

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