Developing Student's Ability to Reason about Complex Earth Systems: A Hypothesis

Wednesday 1:30pm REC Center Large Ice Overlook Room
Oral Presentation Part of Teaching about Systems


Bruce Herbert, Texas A & M University
Lauren Holder, Texas A & M University
Most environmental issues involve near-surface earth systems that often exhibit complex characteristics and dynamics. The nature of near-surface earth systems often present major difficulties to students in their development of authentic, accurate conceptual models of earth systems and their ability to develop alternative solutions that address environmental problems involving these systems.

Our research has explored the nature of student's conceptual models about complex earth systems, the nature of authentic inquiry and design involved in student's learning activities, and the impact of cognitive apprenticeship in improving student's reasoning about complex Earth systems. This work has led us to hypothesize that scaffolding students' ability to reason about complex earth systems requires a research-based framework to guide the choice of case studies that form the core of authentic instructional activities.

This talk explores the nature of near-surface earth systems that exhibit complex behavior, the cognitive and epistemological issues that students may experience in reasoning about these systems, and the design of instructional activities that engage students in authentic scientific inquiry and engineering design. Finally, I will offer an initial framework that could be used to classify case studies and model systems so rational sequences of instructional activities can be designed.

Presentation Media

Developing Student's Ability to Reason about Complex Earth Systems (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 4.3MB Jul15 15)