Temporal Learning Journal Club

Meeting one Wednesday each month, January - May, 2011

The application deadline for the Journal Club was December 6, 2010.


An understanding of geologic time is important for all students in geoscience courses. Yet students struggle with many facets of geologic time, such as the large numbers necessary to fathom Deep Time, the rates of geologic processes, placing geological events in sequence, and the relationships between absolute and relative dating techniques.

From January to May, 2011, the Temporal Learning Journal Club had virtual meetings once a month to discuss readings from the geoscience and cognitive science literature. We explored the cognitive underpinnings of understanding geologic time. To facilitate a deep exploration of this topic, we ran the meetings as a series, with participants committing to all five meetings.


We have posted summaries of the journal club findings shortly after each meeting and will develop an annotated list of recommended readings.


Readings were selected to explore the cognitive aspects of learning about geologic time and were added to the reading list as they were chosen. (Journal Club members can download the readings from our private workspace.)

Meeting dates and times:

To accommodate the overwhelming response to the call for applications, we had two sections of the Journal Club:

  • Times: 8:30-9:30 Pacific | 9:30-10:30 Mountain | 10:30-11:30 Central | 11:30-12:30 Eastern
  • Dates:
    • Section 1: January 19, February 16, March 23, April 13, and May 11.
    • Section 3 (formerly sections 2 & 3): February 2, March 2, April 6, April 27, and May 25.

Discussion themes:

  • January: Temporal concepts in the geosciences -- What is the range of concepts that are fundamentally temporal (deep time, relative time, rates, geologic histories, etc.) and which of these are difficult for students?
  • February: Cognitive processes essential to learning temporal geoscience concepts -- Diachronic perspectives, event memories, analogy and more. How does the framework of cognitive processes help us to understand the challenges we observe in students?
  • March: Teaching about geologic time with analogies. What suggestions can we offer our colleagues on using analogies to teach about geologic time?
  • April: Pedagogic strategies for teaching about geologic time. What strategies are effective? Under what circumstances?
  • May: Practical applications for teaching and learning about time. What is the desired profile of a student leaving our classes with respect to temporal learning: what should they know, what should they be able to do?


Cathy Manduca, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College
Dave Mogk, Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University
Tim Shipley, Department of Psychology, Temple University
Carol Ormand, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College

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