Workshop on Student Motivations and Attitudes: The Role of the Affective Domain in Geoscience Learning

February 11-13, 2007, Carleton College, Northfield, MN

Two students working together on a computer assignment

Presentations, discussion summaries and other products from this workshop are available on the workshop program page.

When we think of teaching geoscience, we usually focus on the cognitive domain: the skills and concepts that students must master to learn geoscience. However, the affective domain plays a critical role in student learning. The affective domain involves concepts such as "interests, attitudes, appreciations, values, and emotional sets or biases." (Krathwohl et al, 1964). It is the affective domain that governs a student's willingness to learn, their ability to accept new ideas, and their motivation to use new knowledge.

Consider the following:

  • How excitement about phenomena in the natural world can be harnessed to enhance students' willingness and ability to learn
  • How perceptions such as "science is too hard" or "science has no application to my life" can limit student engagement in introductory classes
  • The climate for learning that can be fostered by a welcoming learning environment.
  • The role that emotions and attitudes play when learning about controversial issues such as evolution or the environment.

This workshop brought together geoscience educators, cognitive scientists and education specialists to understand the role of the affective domain in teaching and learning geoscience.

Workshop Conveners

  • Cathryn Manduca, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College
  • David McConnell, Department of Geology, University of Akron
  • Thomas R. Koballa, Jr., Department of Mathematics and Science Education, University of Georgia
  • David Mogk, Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University

This workshop is one of the 2006-07 On the Cutting Edge Emerging Theme Workshops, which are designed to move critical ideas and concepts into the mainstream of geoscience education. This workshop was built upon prior workshops such as Teaching Public Policy in the Earth Sciences, Observing and Assessing Student Learning and Teaching Geoscience with Visualizations: Using Images, Animations and Models Effectively.

This workshop is part of the On the Cutting Edge professional development program for current and future geoscience faculty, sponsored by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers with funding provided by a grant from the National Science Foundation - Division of Undergraduate Education . We are part of the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE).