Initial Publication Date: January 16, 2007

Lewis Brown

Geology/Physics, Lake Superior State University

Lewis Brown

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?

  • Excitement about subject/inquisitiveness/curiosity
  • Self-confidence in interpretation
  • Self-confidence in science in general
  • Creativity in manipulating knowledge base
  • Development of attitudes conducive to socially responsible use of natural resources

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?

University teaching in both general and science education and geology at undergraduate (primarily) and graduate levels. I've been instrumental in developing new courses and new curricula (for example co-P.I. NSF-CCLI grant 2000-2006). In all instances I've been interested in student attitudes, motivation, self-concept, and self-confidence. I've always considered creative expression in problem-solving to be of high value.

Essay: Modeling Constructivism in Introductory Geology Courses

Pre-service elementary teachers commonly postpone taking required science courses because of a lack of confidence in their science abilities. These students commonly express doubts about their ability to learn or understand science concepts and hesitate to plan or engage in activity-based learning activities because of this lack of self confidence. They are much more confident in developing science lessons that are teacher dominated, textbook based, and centered solely on basic knowledge acquisition.

Additionally, pre-service teachers are often taught the concepts of constructivism by lecture rather than experientially, thus immediately defeating the purpose and intent of active learning strategies. In modeling the way they have been taught, these pre-teachers reject active learning and K-6 science remains a traditional, memorization-based, intellectually stultifying discipline.

To encourage adoption of activity-based learning strategies that might emphasize and value independence of learning, self confident problem solving, creativity, inquisitiveness, etc., it is necessary to develop and implement appropriate learning situations in which pre-service teachers gain both experience and self-confidence. I have personally attempted to do this in both field courses (Brown and others, 2001) and introductory geology courses. Use of variously structured group-based projects, discussions, debates, concept mapping, and problem solving laboratory activities that I have incorporated into my introductory courses (Kelso and Brown, 2004) are attempts at structuring a relatively active learning environment to promote student self confidence, inquisitiveness, etc. In this way I attempt to model the teaching methodology that many science educators have advocated for generations with the hope that students in my classes will come to appreciate the excitement of science, will develop positive attitudes and lose their fears of science, and will perhaps cast themselves into the position of pursuing scientific careers. A further goal is encouraging pre-service teachers to adopt and implement similar teaching methodologies in their future classrooms.

  • Brown, L.M., P.R. Kelso, and C.B. Rexroad, 2001. Introductory geology for elementary education majors: A constructivist approach, Journal of Geoscience Education, Vol. 49, No. 5, p. 450-453.
  • Kelso, P. R., L. M. Brown, 2004, Strengthening an undergraduate geoscience department through a new project-centered curriculum, Geol. Soc. America Abstracts with Programs Vol. 36, No. 5.