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Affective Domain Dilemmas

This collection of dilemmas began at the February 2007 Workshop as a way of harnessing the collective expertise of the participants to help each other figure out how best to deal with scenarios and situations that commonly arise in the geoscience classroom. A short write-up of the "dilemma method" was presented at the October 2007 POD workshop on the Affective Domain in teaching and learning, where further solutions to the dilemmas were written.


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Convincing faculty about the importance of the affective domain part of Dilemmas
Professors may believe they are "only there to teach" and the students are "there to learn," and it is not the professor's responsibility to worry about motivating them or making them feel good about learning. Possibly, students don't have the ability to succeed, so why should a professor try to motivate students who have a stronger potential to fail?

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Student Motivation

Age of the earth and relationship to belief systems part of Dilemmas
In order to fully understand Earth processes such as plate tectonics, mountain building, erosion, evolution, and various time scales of global climate change students must have a firm grasp of geologic time and the age of the Earth. Mary is a student in science class for teachers. In a reflective writing assignment Mary reported that she did not believe that the Earth was 4.6 billion years old and constructed a list of young earth arguments that indicate an age of ~6,000 years.

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Teaching Controversial Subjects

Avoiding hopeless paralysis part of Dilemmas
In an intro class, I wanted to engage students and show them the importance of the field of geology in their lives. So I presented the evidence for an imminent peak in world oil production and explained how oil forms, how long that takes and how difficult it is to find. I followed the bad news with some good news about research into energy efficiency and alternative energy sources. I assigned the students to write minute-papers at the end of class about this lecture.

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Student Motivation, Teaching Controversial Subjects

Scientific uncertainty and global warming part of Dilemmas
Climate change is the major environmental issue facing all inhabitants of spaceship Earth. As Earth science educators, we must inform students about the scientific consensus on global warming and projections of future warming through this century. Recent research has resulted in a dramatic advance in our understanding of climate history.

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Teaching Controversial Subjects:Climate Change

Meteorology Professor Bob part of Dilemmas
In an upper-level meteorology class, Meteorology Professor Bob introduces complex equations including calculus. A growing body of students strongly resist using mathematical skills that should have been mastered in the prerequisite mathematics courses. The instructor explains the context and necessity of these equations for understanding meteorology at the upper-division level. A common statement of students is: "I don't do math." Students insist they love meteorology but dislike math and lobby the department head for a graphical approach without the use of equations.

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Student Attitudes

Karl the Tree Hugger part of Dilemmas
Karl has been assigned to you as an advisee, and you have never met him and have no information on him other than what the registrar shares. He is obviously smart (he received a "5" on the AP Environmental Science exam). He has made an appointment with you to discuss a program of study.

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Student Motivation, Student Attitudes

Transforming Attitudes and Killing Interest in Introductory Geology Classes for Majors part of Dilemmas
Students enter Physical Geology with great interest in geology regardless of declared major or academic rank. Approximately 70% of students (n=306) declared a high level of interest in multiple aspects of geosciences. However, at the end of the semester, less than 30% of the same population recorded a high interest in geology (regardless of declared major, academic rank).

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Student Attitudes

Attitudes About Working in Groups versus Individually part of Dilemmas
A student comes to your office after class and states "I don't do groups." Group work is an important component of your Introductory Geology course. Teamwork is an primary learning objective of the course. Furthermore, the course is based on project-based learning, and 30% of each individual grade is calculated from group projects. What do you do? Do you require a group activity under any circumstance? Do you try to get the person to buy-in on collaborative work? Or, do we find an equitable alternative?

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Student Attitudes

Recruiting Under-represented Minorities into a Geoscience Program part of Dilemmas
Students of under-represented groups have little to no interest in the Svalbard REU program. Despite concerted recruitment efforts, members of under-represented groups often don't apply to the program. We use direct mailings (with recruitment posters) and presentations, advertisement at national meetings with minimal success. We can not seem to be able to place this paid opportunity on their "radar-screen."

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Student Attitudes

Irrecoverable Failure part of Dilemmas
The course is an Earth Science for Teachers course. The content is outlined in a popular 16-chapter introductory text. Licensing for teachers specifies a certain block of content to be covered, which is about 12 of the 16 chapters. The professor gave two high-stakes (counted for grade) quizzes to prepare students for their first test, over four chapters, which is an essay exam. Quiz grades were low, so the teacher chastised the class about being unmotivated and urged them to study more.

Affective Domain Vocabulary: Student Attitudes

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