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Transforming Attitudes and Killing Interest in Introductory Geology Classes for Majors
Jennifer Stempien and David McConnell
Dilemma: 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). These are large classes (n=160) taught in a relatively traditional lecture format with incorporation of videos and clicker technology. Instructors are fulltime, tenured faculty with a minimum of 5 years experience teaching the course and consistently receive strong faculty teaching evaluations (B+/A- on an A to F scale). Average student performance in class is relatively high (B-) and shows no indication of a lack of ability using traditional class assessments (multiple choice exams). Some students take a complementary lab, some do not.
How can the class be modified to sustain the initial interest of students?
Matt Nyman, Megan Jones, Kaatje Kraft, and Jeff Johnston
- Getting more information about initial student interests, are these interests being addressed?
- Check the use of immediacy behaviors by the instructor.
- Is there room for improvement on how the clickers are being used?
- Formative assessment during the semester, particularly linked to the initial assessment about the student's interests. What would the students like to see more of, based on their interests?
- Give students having more control over content of the course.
- Include students in developing assessment instruments.