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Cutting Edge > Visualization > Teaching Activities > Concept Test: Mid-Ocean Ridges

Concept Test based on Mid-Ocean Ridge Data

Kim Kastens
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
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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: Feb 7, 2008


Single item multiple choice questions, based on mid-ocean ridge bathymetric data, suitable for using in the middle of a lecture to assess students' learning of basic plate tectonic concepts.

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Suitable for use in an undergraduate course that covers plate tectonics; variants with different levels of difficulty are provided.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Must have looked at bathymetric data sufficiently to recognize the morphology of a divergent plate margin.

How the activity is situated in the course

Conceptests are single item multiple choice questions given in the middle of a lecture to assess students' learning of basic concepts (Mazur, 1997; McConnell et al, 2006). Students answer the question individually. While the student answers are tallied, students discuss the question with their neighbors. Afterwards, the students reanswer the question.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Students will understand and recognize the manifestations of divergent and transform plate boundaries (bathymetry, plate motion direction, plate motion rate, rock type, sediment cover.)

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Combining multiple sources of insight. Making connection between data and concept.

Other skills goals for this activity

Interpret bathymetric data, recognize rocks and sediments, convert rate of plate motion into age of seafloor.

Description of the activity/assignment

Conceptests are single item multiple choice questions given in the middle of a lecture to assess students' learning of basic concepts. Because Conceptests are projected during class, it is relatively easy to include snippets of data. Students' understanding of the target concepts can then be assessed based on how well they interpret the data rather than how well they answer verbal questions. The Conceptests on this website use bathymetric data from mid-ocean ridges (MOR's) and test students' understanding of MOR volcanism, plate motion direction, seafloor aging, and sedimentation.

Determining whether students have met the goals

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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