Model Based Reasoning by Introductory Students When Analyzing Earth Systems and Societal Challenges

Monday 2:00pm REC Center Large Ice Overlook Room
Oral Presentation Part of Course Design and Interactive Learning


Lauren Holder, Texas A & M University
Bruce Herbert, Texas A & M University
Understanding how students use their conceptual models to reason about societal challenges involving societal issues such as natural hazard risk assessment, environmental policy and management, and energy resources can improve instructional activity design that directly impacts student motivation and literacy. To address this question, we created four laboratory exercises for an introductory physical geology course at Texas A&M University that engages students in authentic scientific practices by using real world problems and issues that affect societies based on the theory of situated cognition. Our case-study design allows us to investigate the various ways that students utilize model based reasoning to identify and propose solutions to societally relevant issues.
In each of the four interventions, introductory physical geology students were expected to represent and evaluate scientific data, make evidence-based claims about the data trends, use those claims to express conceptual models, and use their models to analyze societal challenges. Throughout each step of the laboratory exercise students were asked to justify their claims, models, and data representations using evidence and through the use of argumentation with peers. The design of the laboratories was based upon the principle of cognitive apprenticeship and focuses on the intersection between scientific inquiry and engineering design.
Student artifacts, including representation of earth systems, representation of scientific data, and written explanations of models, scientific arguments, and solutions to specific societal issues or environmental problems surrounding earth systems, were analyzed through the use of a rubric that modeled authentic expertise and students were sorted into categories. Written artifacts were examined to identify student argumentation and justifications of solutions through the use of evidence and reasoning. Higher scoring students justified their solutions through evidence-based claims, while lower scoring students typically justified their solutions using anecdotal evidence, emotional ideologies, and naive and incomplete conceptions of earth systems.

Presentation Media

Model Based Reasoning by Students (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 9.3MB Jul13 15)

Presentation Media

Model Based Reasoning by Introductory Students (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 9.3MB Jul13 15)