Recommendations: Important Next Steps in Teaching Geoscience with Visualizations

In the culmination of the workshop, participants worked together to create a list of needed resources and to suggest initiatives that would further the creation and use of effective visualizations in teaching undergraduate geoscience. These lists form the foundation from which the following recommendations are synthesized.

Recommendation 1: More cognitive research needs to be brought to bear on how our students learn through visualization and what experiences and preconceived notions students bring to the classroom.

More cognitive research projects are needed to determine the basic understanding students derive from visualizations used specifically in geoscience education. Research is also needed in order to develop a better understanding of what students bring to the classroom regarding preconceived notions of earth processes and how students visualize these processes. Targeted research is needed to quantitatively evaluate the effectiveness of visualizations in teaching with the aim of developing generalized principles for use in building visualizations. Another area requiring research in using visualizations relates to the potential differences in the needs and abilities of introductory-level undergraduate students versus mid- to upper-level students.

Recommendation 2: Identification and growth of content areas in which website collections are needed.

Specific content areas in which visualizations are particularly needed should be determined, and development in these areas should be targeted. In addition, there appears to be a need for visualizations that effectively present time-based phenomena. Physical demonstrations are a particularly sensory stimulating form of visualization, and digital technology provides new avenues for online archiving and delivery of video images depicting in-class physical demonstrations. The 'Teaching on Visualization' website is attempting to develop resources in these targeted areas.

Recommendation 3: Development of partnerships between instructors, cognitive scientists, learning researchers, and visualization developers.

We recommend partnering between geoscience instructors, cognitive scientists, and educational researchers, where university geoscience educators take the initiative to play a role in a partnership with an instructional researcher. Partnerships in which geoscience instructors work with educational researchers to carefully design and implement innovative assessments of the effectiveness of visualizations in teaching are strongly encouraged. Importantly, results of these collaborative investigations need be published and made known to the greater geoscience education community. Likewise, strong partnerships between visualization developers, geoscience instructors, and educational researchers should be formed in order that research on learning and classroom experience can be brought to bear on the development of effective visualizations.