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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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."
Pissed about Pluto—The nature of science and how we teach it part of Dilemmas
Sarah is a student in a science class for teachers. The class started working on a scale model of the solar system and when we got to the topic of Pluto, Sarah was distraught that Pluto had been "plutoed." During elementary school Sarah had done a report on Pluto that included creating a model of the planet, for which she received much positive feedback.
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.
Selective use of evidence to support viewpoints part of Dilemmas
In an Introductory Geology class you give your students a final project where they select their own topic of interest. John chooses the topic on the theory of evolution. By the time of your first meeting to discuss the project, he found a lot of information on the Internet which claims to have evidence that disproves the theory of evolution.
"I Want to Believe You": Is there comfort in simplicity and discomfort from complexity? part of Dilemmas
Professor Spurrier has prepared carefully for a presentation on paleoclimates, in an effort to have students learn about past climate changes. She presents information on current and historical measurements, tree ring data, ice core data, and ocean sediment data, going further into the past and demonstrating the inferences on what the climates were like. The students seem restless with this presentation, and finally one bright student raises his hand.
Empathy part of Dilemmas
Students in a small upper level class discussing global warming students argue that anything we do to "save" the environment is worth any cost and ultimately benefits everyone equally. We explain that a person in another country might be willing to accept a degraded environment in exchange for economic improvement. Students are willing to accept that as an intellectual argument but it becomes clear in subsequent discussions that they did not change their arguments to accommodate this idea.
Al's bandwagon part of Dilemmas
In the eight person seminar class is an inquisitive, nontraditional, student who is a motivated popular science reader. This student challenges the conclusions made by the vocal majority of scientists that global warming is caused by human activity.
Too Cool for Science part of Dilemmas
On a frigid Minnesota afternoon, I had just finished a mini-lecture in my introductory class, and I threw out a question to the whole class. Chris responded enthusiastically with a wonderful and correct contribution. At which point, Sam groaned and said, in a voice audible to the entire class,"suck up!" A few other eyes rolled, and other hands that had been raised were slowly lowered.
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?
Fixation on grades part of Dilemmas
Each semester our university offers several large-enrollment (n ~ 220) sections of a lecture-based introductory physical geology course. Although the course can be counted toward a geological sciences major, it functions mostly as a service course that provides non-major students a science credit necessary for graduation.