Initial Publication Date: January 16, 2007

Tatiana Vislova

Department of Earth Sciences, SUNY College at Oneonta

Tatiana Vislova

What are the key issues related to the role of the affective domain in teaching geoscience that you would like to engage at the workshop?

As a new coordinator for a large introductory course I want to develop and explore new activities for labs, lecture time, and the fieldtrips which will modify my students' attitude towards science, demonstrate social and economic relevance of geology, and increase students' motivation and involvement. Many students in introductory geology class come with already formed views and ideas, which are often wrong or too simplified. Students will often preserve their opinion despite the offered geological evidences just because they are used to it. Through the workshop I hope to get a better understanding of how students' knowledge builds up and how their opinions and attitudes develop. I would like to learn how the other educators deal with controversial topics and already formed strong but wrong opinions, without forcing their own point of view.

What expertise or experience (in study of the affective domain or teaching of geoscience) will you bring to the workshop? How would you like to contribute to the workshop?

I have 3.5 years experience in teaching in private and public universities. I've been teaching a number of introductory geology courses, as well as more advanced courses in environmental geology, mineralogy and earth materials. I would like to discuss my experience with teaching different groups of students, with different backgrounds and goals for future. I would love to communicate my ideas, concerns, and share specific activities relevant to the affective domain.

Essay: Addressing the Students' Goals

This fall I taught an Earth Materials course to students majoring in Adolescence Education with a concentration in the Earth Science. This new course was created in order to provide education majors with a shorter and simpler version of traditional Mineralogy/Petrology sequence available for geology majors. When designing this new course I had a very clear set of goals related to the cognitive domain: what knowledge I wanted my students to gain and what skills to master. I wanted them to be able to identify minerals and rocks, to explain where and how they usually form (geological setting and geological processes), and to describe their economic and environmental significance.

This class obviously included lots of practice with mineral and rock samples, as well as memorization of their names and properties. Only few people are naturally fascinated by the beauty of rocks and minerals, and are curious about how they form. So in preparation for this class I was searching for a way to motivate all my students. I was asking myself a question: what would I like to get from this class if I were planning to become a high school teacher? I came up with the following: ideally I would like to put together my own unique teaching portfolio including in-class and field exercises, lectures, and labs. It would be also great to start my own rock and mineral collection. And as a future teacher I would like to get some experience with using technology (website, posters, and power point presentations).

It was important for me to understand that students came to my class not to get the good grades, and even not to become good in identifying minerals and understanding the geological processes, but to receive a good preparation for their future successful careers in teaching. Once I formulated this purpose of the course for myself it was easier for me to build a curriculum including affective domain categories (receiving, responding, valuing, organization). Instead of memorizing the minerals students were thinking of how to help their future students to do it. Instead of going on the fieldtrip, students were designing and leading the fieldtrips. They were encouraged to evaluate themselves, each other, and me, exchange ideas and explore. Whatever activity I was using in class I always draw their attention to content, resources, and teaching methods I were using.

Following are examples of some individual and group activities we did in class:

  • Groups of students were asked to explore on their own the campus area searching for earth materials used as building or decorative stone, write down the "guide to the geology of the campus", and finally lead the campus tour for the rest of the class.
  • Students were asked to explored USGS website on volcanic hazards at home and come up with the questions for the quiz. I put together the quiz made of their questions, and students were graded for the quiz itself and for the quality of their questions as well.
  • We constructed the concepts map for the course as a whole class discussion.

It was very rewarding for me to see students getting excited about topics we were covering, producing great ideas, and evaluating sources. Another very strong advantage of this approach was an atmosphere of respect in the classroom. I felt like I was sharing my knowledge and teaching methods with colleagues, and based on students evaluations students truly appreciated that.

Other ideas, which I am planning to incorporate in the future, include designing students' unique hands on projects (demonstrating volcanoes, earthquakes, etc.); mock school students teaching of earth materials; constructing a website; competition on "the best website on mineral properties"; putting together actual individual teaching portfolio for each student.