Assessment of learning in entry-level geoscience courses; results from the geoscience concept inventory
J. C. Libarkin, S. W. Anderson 2005 Journal of Geoscience Education 53(4), 394-401
Assessment of learning in entry-level college science courses is of interest to a wide variety of faculty, administrators, and policy-makers. The question of student preparedness for college instruction, as well as the effect of instruction on student ideas, has prompted a wide range of qualitative and quantitative studies across disciplines. In the geosciences, faculty are just beginning to become aware of the importance of conceptual change in instruction. The development of the Geoscience Concept Inventory (GCI) and application to the study of learning in entry-level geoscience courses provides a common framework from which faculty can evaluate learning and teaching effectiveness. In a study of 43 courses and 2500 students, we find that students are entering geoscience courses with alternative conceptions (sometimes called "misconceptions"), and in many cases are leaving the classroom with these alternative ideas intact. Comparison of pre- and post-test results show that students with the lowest pre-test scores show the most improvement, whereas those with higher pre-test scores show little, if any, improvement. We also find no relationship between self-reported teaching style and learning as measured by the GCI, suggesting significant research needs to be done to evaluate teaching effectiveness in geoscience classrooms.