Geoscience Education Research I

Monday 1:30pm-4:00pm REC Center Medium Ice Overlook Room
Oral Session

Session Chairs

Anne Gold, University of Colorado at Boulder
Dave Mogk, Montana State University-Bozeman
1:30pm
Geoscience Education Research: A Brief History, Context and Opportunities
Dave Mogk, Montana State University-Bozeman
Kim Kastens, Columbia University in the City of New York
Cathy Manduca, Carleton College

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DBER combines knowledge of teaching and learning with deep knowledge of discipline-specific science content. It describes the discipline-specific difficulties learners face and the specialized intellectual and instructional resources that can facilitate student understanding (NRC, 2012). In the geosciences, content knowledge derives from all the "spheres" (atmo-, hydro-, bio-, litho-), the complex interactions within the Earth system, first principles from allied sciences, an understanding of "deep time", and approaches that emphasize the interpretive and historical nature of geoscience. These topics can present formidable barriers to learners of all ages. Insights gained from the theory and practice of the cognitive and learning sciences that demonstrate how people learn, as well as research on learning from other STEM disciplines, have helped inform the development of geoscience curricular initiatives. The Earth Science Curriculum Project (1963) was strongly influenced by Piaget and emphasized hands-on, experiential learning. A NSF report (NSF 97-171) recommended "... that GEO and EHR both support research in geoscience education, helping geoscientists to work with colleagues in fields such as educational and cognitive psychology, in order to facilitate development of a new generation of geoscience educators." An NSF sponsored workshop, Bringing Research on Learning to the Geosciences (2002) brought together geoscience educators and cognitive scientists to explore areas of mutual interest, and identified a research agenda that included study of spatial and temporal learning, complex systems, use of visualizations in geoscience learning, characterization of expert learning, and learning environments (field, lab). Subsequent events have focused on building new communities of scholars, such as the On the Cutting Edge faculty professional development workshops. Geoscience education research is a growing and thriving field of scholarship that includes new PhD programs and numerous collaborative research consortia. The results of geoscience education research are presently being incorporated into the geoscience curriculum through teaching activities and textbooks.
1:45pm
On the Cutting Edge: Demonstrating Impact on Teaching
Cathy Manduca, Carleton College
Monica Bruckner, Carleton College
David McConnell, North Carolina State University
Ellen Iverson, Carleton College

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Established in 2002 with funding from NSF, more than 1800 geoscience faculty, post-docs and graduate students have participated in On the Cutting Edge (CE) professional development workshops. The CE website, comprised of 5000+ web pages addressing quality teaching in geoscience , had more than 1 million users in 2013. A national survey of geoscience faculty shows that those who have both attended one or more events and report using the website are 1.5 times more likely to spend more than 20% of a course period on activities, questions or discussion. These results are borne out by more than 200 observations of instructors teaching a variety of geoscience courses at all types of institutions using the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) protocol. These data show that those who have participated in one or more CE events and use the website have average RTOP score of 47, significantly higher (more than 15 points) than the average score of faculty who have not participated in CE events and report having not used the website. This presentation will focus on the relationship between self reported teaching behavior and observed teaching behavior. How much confidence can be placed on the survey data? How can they be used to generalize the observational data? How do these results compare to those observed in other disciplines.
2:00pm
Impact of InTeGrate materials on teaching beliefs and practices
David McConnell, North Carolina State University
Michael Pelch, University of Washington-Tacoma Campus

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The NSF-funded InTeGrate project (http://serc.carleton.edu/integrate/index.html) seeks to develop, test, and disseminate geoscience educational resources for a variety of courses and disciplines so that they can provide the skills and information necessary for students to understand, plan for, and attempt to mitigate geoscience-related societal challenges. Teams of instructors were guided by pedagogy and assessment experts to create free online materials that can be readily deconstructed and reconfigured with local examples and materials to suit the needs of the specific instructor and/or learner. All lessons feature specific learning objectives, student activities, feedback, and assessments. We observed multiple lessons taught by participating instructors and assessed instructional practices using the Reformed Teaching Observational Protocol (RTOP). RTOP scores indicated that instructors were implementing the materials as intended. Eighteen instructors participating in the InTeGrate project were administered the Teacher Belief Interview (TBI) before and after developing, piloting, and revising a two-week introductory geoscience module. The TBI is a semi-structured interview consisting of seven questions aimed at qualifying different aspects of an instructor's pedagogical beliefs. Coding and analyses of pre- and post-development interviews show a statistically significant improvement (p=0.009) toward more student-centered responses, with the greatest gains among participants with the lowest pre-development scores. Overall, these results suggest that participating in professional development opportunities employing collaboration, authentic exposure, and structured support can positively impact pedagogical beliefs. We place this work in the context of theories of change models and discuss the implications of this work for instructors seeking to add new materials and practices to their courses.
2:15pm
Eye Tracking, Pupillometry, and Hand Biosensors in Geoscience Education Research: Current trends, Applications, and Future Directions
karen mcneal, Auburn University Main Campus
Ritayan Mitra, North Carolina State University
Sarah Luginbuhl, North Carolina State University
Rachel Atkins, North Carolina State University

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The field of Geoscience Education Research (GER) has been richly enhanced by methods traditionally used in the learning sciences, psychology, and science education. Specifically, the use of eye-tracking, pupillometry, and hand biosensors have recently afforded geoscience education researchers the opportunity to study people's physiological responses while engaging with multiple representations and/or activities in the geosciences. Eye-tracking is the process of measuring eye-position and movements defined by parameters such as gaze paths, fixation time and duration. Pupillometry is a related technique that measures eye-dilation and it can be utilized to determine the cognitive loading of viewers. These applications are often utilized for expert/novice comparisons, A/B comparisons, and/or usability studies. Hand biosensors or galvanic skin response measures skin conductance of the wearer that is related to emotional engagement in a given task. In this presentation we will provide general information on each of the highlighted applications, describe the type of studies that are appropriate for these tools, and include a case study for each technique as it relates to important research questions in GER. We will show how: 1) pupillometry was applied, for the first time, to understand cognitive load in novices during graph reading tasks, 2) eye-tracking was applied to understand how pre-service teachers navigate graphs about climate change and how they compare to experts, and 3) hand biosensors were applied to measure the engagement of undergraduate students during a variety of classroom teaching approaches. We will also discuss the outcomes of our work as well as the limitations and the advantages of each approach and provide recommendations for future research activities using these tools in GER.
2:30pm
Break
2:45pm
Examination of affective factors predicting introductory geology student's intent to persist
Kaatje Kraft, Whatcom Community College

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The 2014 Status of the Workforce report for the geosciences (AGI) projected a shortage of geoscientists for the workforce. In order to address this projected shortage, majors need to be considered from a more diverse pool. Two-year colleges (2YC) serve a diverse population and 45% of all undergraduates (AACC), as such, they are well situated to help address the increasing geoscience workforce demands. Geoscience is a discipline that draws great interest, but has very low representation of Underrepresented Minorities (URM's) as majors. What affective-related factors influence a student's decision to major in the geosciences and are 2YC students different from research universities (4YU) in what influence these decisions? Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was applied in an effort to predict a student's intent to persist in introductory geology. The targeted population was participants in the Geoscience Affective Research NETwork (GARNET) project, a national sampling of students enrolled in introductory geology courses. Results from SEM indicated that interest was the primary predictor in a student's intent to persist for both 2YC and 4YU students. In addition, self-efficacy appeared to be mediated by interest within these models. Classroom pedagogy impacted how much interest was needed to predict intent to persist: as classrooms became more student-centered, less interest was required to predict intent to persist. Lastly, math self-concept did not predict student intent to persist, however, it did share variance with self-efficacy and control of learning beliefs, indicating it may play a moderating effect on student interest and self-efficacy particularly with 2YC students. Implications of this work are that while 2YC and 4YU students are different in demographics and content preparation, student-centered instruction continues to be the best way to support student's interest in the geosciences across all institutions.
3:00pm
Forecasting Exam Scores Based on How Students Participate in Introductory Geoscience Courses
Perry Samson, Henry Ford Community College
Ben van der Pluijm, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

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This presentation reports on research being conducted at the University of Michigan on 1) how student participation is related to student grades and 2) how students participate as a function of their incoming GPA. This paper reports on the use of the Echo360 Active Learning Platform that resulted in data about student participation before, during and after class. Student participation measurements included per class information on attendance, volume of notes taken, number of instructor question answered, number of gradable questions answered correctly, number of questions asked and minutes viewing lecture captures. These data were coupled with the students' academic history from the university's student information system, survey results and exam grades to create a database with which to explore relationships between student participation and student outcomes. Results show that 1) some strong relationships exist between student participation and student outcomes and 2) the nature of student participation is related to the students' incoming Grade Point Average (GPA). The quantity and quality of student responses to questions posed in class were found to be strong predictors of student grades on exams. These results offer a basis for constructing predictive models for student performance that can be implemented early in the academic term. Access to data at this level of granularity is considered an important step towards offering very personalized feedback to students based on their patterns of class participation. Results also show that students with different GPAs entering the course participated in markedly different ways. Lower GPA students tended to participate in questions less often, took five times fewer notes and were more likely to participate in class remotely rather than physically come to class. These results suggest that student outcomes may have less to do with students' innate cognitive capability and more to do with poor motivation and/or study habits.
3:15pm
The ENGAGE Workshop: Encouraging Networks between Geoscience and Geoscience Education
Nicole LaDue, Northern Illinois University
Michael Hubenthal, IRIS Consortium
John Taber, IRIS Consortium
Danielle Sumy, IRIS Consortium
Andreas Andersson, University of California-San Diego
Jeremy Bassis, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Kaatje Kraft, Whatcom Community College
Peter Lea, Bowdoin College
Shelley Pressley, Washington State University- Pullman

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The geoscience education community has made great strides in the study of teaching and learning at the undergraduate level, particularly with respect to solid earth geology. Nevertheless, the 2012 National Research Council report, Discipline-based Education Research: Understanding and Improving Learning in Undergraduate Science and Engineering suggests that the geosciences lag behind other science disciplines in the integration of education research within the discipline and the establishment of a broad research base. In January 2015, over 40 early career researchers from earth, atmospheric, ocean, and polar sciences and geoscience education research (GER) gathered for the ENGAGE workshop. The primary goal of ENGAGE was to broaden awareness of discipline-based research in the geosciences and catalyze relationships and understanding between these groups of scientists. An organizing committee of nine geoscientists and GERs collaborated to develop a two-day workshop with a variety of activities to engage participants in the establishment of a shared understanding of education research and the development of project ideas through collaborative teams. Thirty-three participants were selected from over 100 applicants, based on disciplinary diversity and demonstrated interest in geoscience education research. Invited speakers and panelists also provided examples of successful cross-disciplinary collaborations. As a result of this workshop, the participants indicated that they gained new perspectives on geoscience education and research, networked outside of their discipline, and are likely to increase their involvement in geoscience education research. Within the next year, 26 of 28 participants indicated they are now better prepared to enter into cross-disciplinary collaborations. The workshop evaluation revealed that the physical geoscientists particularly valued opportunities for informal networking and working on group project development. The GERs highly valued opportunities to discuss the boundaries of outreach, evaluation, and research and the potential next steps to advance geoscience education.
3:30pm
Gender in the Geosciences: Factors Supporting the Recruitment and Retention of Women in the Undergraduate Major
Julie Sexton, University of Colorado at Boulder
Eric Riggs, Texas A & M University
Kevin Pugh, University of Northern Colorado
Cassendra Bergstrom, University of Northern Colorado
Rhonda Parmley, Quaternia Services, LLC
Michael Phillips, University of Northern Colorado

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The proportion of women earning undergraduate geoscience degrees has remained about 40% for over 10 years. Little research has investigated why women select and persist in a geoscience major. In a three-year National Science Foundation study, we are filling this research gap by studying why students major in the geosciences and why some geoscience programs are more successful than others at recruiting and retaining female students. We collected interview and survey data from faculty and students at six public US universities. Four sites had a low proportion of female degree recipients and two sites had a high proportion of female degree recipients. Surveys were completed by 408 students. Interviews were conducted with 49 faculty members and 151 students. Female students had significantly lower levels of interest/identity, self-efficacy, social support, connection to instructor, and transformative experience. Interest and identity were significant predictors of students' decision to major in geoscience. A sense of connection to one's instructor and deeper levels of transformative experience were also predictive of academic and career choice, particularly for female students. High sites used student-centered approaches to teaching, valued undergraduate research, had a high number of undergraduate students involved in research, and created opportunities for faculty-student interactions outside of class. Low sites used faculty-centered approaches to teaching, placed limited value on undergraduate research, had a low number of undergraduate students involved in research, and did not create opportunities for faculty-student interactions outside of class. Faculty and students at high and low sites described experiences in which female students were treated differently based on gender. However, faculty and students at low sites described more experiences in which female students were treated differently based on gender.
3:45pm
Is There a Better Model for P&T Preparation and Evaluation of Geoscience Education Research in Geoscience Departments?
Kristen St. John, James Madison University

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Compared to traditional research in geology, research on teaching and learning in the geosciences is a relatively young field of study. Peer-review publication statistics and the increase in the number of graduate programs in geoscience education research (GER) are evidence that this field is growing and robust. Most GER is conducted by faculty who are in tenure-track positions at colleges and universities. Therefore, career success requires a geoscience education researcher to plan for, and satisfactorily meet, the expectation for promotion and tenure (P&T). P&T is traditionally organized around Teaching, Research, and Service. However, when the area of research is on teaching itself, where does this fit within the traditional P&T framework? And, how can P&T preparation and evaluation be improved? These questions are addressed in three ways: (1) Conditions that cause disconnects between GER and traditional P&T evaluation are outlined based on published studies and personal observations. These include challenges that arise from integrating geoscience with social science; from evolving definitions of what constitutes geoscience education research and scholarship; and from different ideas on how the impact of research is best measured. (2) A synthesis is provided of recommendations from published reports on ways in which the challenges facing geoscience education researchers can be reconciled with the existing P&T structure. Recommendations range from community building strategies to clarifying what constitutes evidence of impact for GER outcomes. (3) Lastly, a modified P&T structure is proposed that follows the Boyer (1990) model of scholarship. In it, the porous nature of Teaching, Research, and Service is recognized and embraced by adding a forth P&T category of Integration. Meaningful connections across teaching, research (and service) would be expected in this structure; and geoscience education research, as well as other interdisciplinary fields of study, would be better situated for sharing the importance of their contributions.
4:00pm
Discussion