Course Design and Interactive Learning

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

Session Chairs

LeeAnn Srogi, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Christopher Berg, Orange Coast College
1:30pm
Evaluating and revising the inquiry level of physical geology labs and assessing the impact on student academic performance.
Charles Czajka, North Carolina State University
David McConnell, North Carolina State University
Katherine Ryker, University of South Carolina-Columbia
April Grissom, North Carolina State University

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The introductory physical geology labs taught at North Carolina State University were reformatted in 2009 to include more inquiry-based activities and utilize local geologic resources. After several years of teaching the labs, an inquiry rubric was adopted and used to characterize the proportion of the various levels of inquiry present in each lab. Using the rubric, the inquiry level of each activity in every lab was determined based on the presence or absence of six common characteristics of scientific investigation. The mineral, rock, and geologic time labs were found to contain a significant proportion of low level inquiry activities and were targeted for further revision. These three labs were revised in the Spring 2013 semester, and learning gains were measured between students in the original version of the lab compared to those in the revised higher inquiry version. The revised labs were found to positively influence student academic performance on a variety of assessments. We will discuss examples of lab activities representing different levels of inquiry, provide guidelines to help educators utilize a rubric to analyze the inquiry level of their own lab activities, and provide suggestions on making targeted changes to effectively incorporate higher inquiry activities. Increasing inquiry in introductory geology labs is a worthwhile effort as it often requires few additional resources and minimal TA training while having a positive influence on student academic performance.
1:45pm
Teaching focus in Geology - transforming from descriptive to deductive
Biju Longhinos, Institute for Advanced Studies in Climate Change (IASCC)

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Geology is a very young science. Its scientific character has a history of hardly three centuries. It is the last offshoot among natural sciences that sprang from geography/astronomy/philosophy. Therefore the common essence ( philosophical discourse ) of the mother subjects predominates in geology over the step wise deductions followed in main stream basic sciences. Hence teaching of Geology at undergraduate levels, even being a science, remains largely descriptive than deductive. All across India, the subject Geology, at undergraduate level of studies, is introduced first by describing land forms- the morphs and their evolution. It gives an impression that the components we study in the subject are 'pre-determined' - descriptive and definition based. The cause-effect relation under natural conditions are least, therefore, not covered in the learning process. The students, with a background of studying Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics where cause- effect relations are experimented and theorized rather than philosophically mystified, usually wonder at Geology being called as a science. They lose the quest without gaining any scientific insight of natural systems. The reason lies in the teaching methodology. This paper intends to bring necessary transformation in teaching of Geology from simple descriptive form to a field based deductive one, enabling the undergraduate students to skip confusion and adopt appropriate learning method.
2:00pm
Model Based Reasoning by Introductory Students When Analyzing Earth Systems and Societal Challenges
Lauren Holder, Texas A & M University
Bruce Herbert, Texas A & M University

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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.
2:15pm
Engaging Large Lectures with Kinesthetic Learning: Examples from an Introductory Environmental Systems Course
Hillary Hamann, University of Denver

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Maintaining student engagement in large, introductory lectures can be a challenge with fixed-seating lecture halls, diverse learners and science content. Incorporating active pedagogies can enhance student learning by helping students to move beyond passive reception of knowledge to exploring and creating knowledge. Most of the active learning approaches for large classes described in the literature focus on interactions that are though- or discussion-based, such as the "think-pair-share" model. While these are effective, including kinesthetic (tactile and movement-based) activities in the active learning repertoire provides additional engagement for a broader range of learning styles and targets students' kinesthetic intelligences. When included in undergraduate earth science education, tactile learning may be relegated to laboratories or smaller classes. Here I present a suite of kinesthetic exercises to help students engage with and understand geoscience concepts in a large, introductory lecture class. Ranging from about 3-15 minutes, students are given the opportunity to physically move and actively simulate processes including: ozone formation/destruction, the effect of greenhouse gases on the energy balance, storm hydrographs, faulting processes, and wave energy. Each of these activities benefits from the large class size and tries to take into consideration the lecture-hall constraints. I evaluate the effectiveness of these activities on student engagement and retention of the targeted concepts, and highlight tips to translate them to your own classes.
2:30pm
Break
2:45pm
Development of a Lecture-Tutorial for Comparative Planetary Geology
Briana Ingermann, University of Colorado at Boulder

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We present a new Lecture-Tutorial (a small-group, guided-inquiry activity) on comparative planetary geology and demonstrate it to be an effective active-engagement learning tool for introductory undergraduate astronomy classes. Following the established format of existing Lecture-Tutorials for physics and astronomy, we developed and tested our planetary geology Lecture-Tutorial with over 1000 undergraduate students in two non-major, introductory astronomy classes at the University of Colorado Boulder. Our materials are based on systematic study of student understanding and reasoning about comparative planetary geology from an astronomical perspective.
3:00pm
Interdisciplinary coteaching as a model for faculty development
Hannah Scherer, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Megan O'Rourke, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Rachel Seman-Varner, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Peter Ziegler, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ

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Modern post-secondary faculty are increasingly challenged to implement student-centered pedagogy in their classrooms. The lack of training to do this is a considerable hurdle that must be addressed. We implemented a coteaching model that emphasizes learning to teach in the praxis of teaching and, through the use of a "broker" of knowledge about reformed teaching practices and education research, redesigned a significant portion of our interdisciplinary course, Ecological Agriculture: Theory and Practice. The course introduces students to the principles of ecology and how they inform sustainable agricultural practices through in-class activities, experiential learning, a long-term farm planning project, field trips, and current event debates. These components existed in previous semesters, but were not highly integrated and the primary class format was lecture-based. Changes were precipitated by: a new lead instructor with an expressed interest in learning non-lecture based strategies, an existing member of the teaching team with experience in teacher education and implementing student-centered pedagogy in geoscience courses, and the position of the course within an interdisciplinary minor that employs an innovative model for collaborative teaching within all courses. Concurrent with the design and implementation of the new classroom activities, we examined our practice by conducting an ethnographic action research study. Data sources include: fieldnotes and in-process memos, teaching reflections, interviews, artifacts, and classroom observations of instructor and student engagement. Analysis indicates that: the team has good rapport, suggestions for student-centered teaching made by the education faculty member were welcomed and often enacted, modeling of the planning process and student-centered teaching techniques was highly valued, historical knowledge of the course was useful in planning, and the education faculty member was able to provide input on planning student-centered activities with a minimal level of subject-matter expertise. These findings inform our understanding of how interdisciplinary teams can function to improve post-secondary education.
3:15pm
A unique collaborative online blended teaching delivery brings cutting edge climate change science from a large research university (Penn State) to a historically black colleges and university (Fort Valley State).
Aditya Kar, Fort Valley State University
Tim Bralower, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
David Bice, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

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Understanding the science of climate change is of utmost importance for the next generation of students to be competitive in the global job market as they most likely have to deal with sudden and perhaps severe climatic shifts. Smaller and minority serving institutions such as Fort Valley State University (FVSU), an HBCU in Georgia, does not have the resources to develop a course on the evolving science of climate change. A dual degree program between Penn State and FVSU has been in operation for over a decade with close to 10 graduates over this time span. A joint NASA grant between these two institutions has now enabled the faculty to work together to bring a climate change course developed at Penn State to FVSU. The course Earth Futures has an online lecture and a weekly face to face lab. In the first offering of this blended course (Sp2015), five academically gifted FVSU students enrolled in the chemistry and biology programs experienced a course design different from what are used to at FVSU. However, once exposed, they rose to the challenge and performed the same tasks as their Penn State peers such as weekly reading, laboratories and quizzes. By midterm all five students were making excellent progress. This experience provided the students who would be transferring to Penn State in a year, an understanding of expectation of how courses are delivered, thus making their transfer much smoother. This course can also serve as a great model for the rest of the country and the world how partnerships can bring opportunities of academic learning of the first order to students of smaller or minority-serving institutions; thus giving these students an access to the science and the knowledge, enabling them to enter the work force on equal footing as students from larger institutions.
3:30pm
Read for the Earth: Bringing Energy and Climate Education to College Students
David Blockstein, Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences
Geoff Haines-Stiles, Passport to Knowledge

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A new NSF-funded project with NCSE and P2K is directed towards improving student learning about energy and climate through First Year Reading programs or earth education classrooms. The project uses a package of curricular resources centered on the PBS series "EARTH: The Operators' Manual" (ETOM) and the accompanying book by award-winning geoscientist and communicator, Richard Alley. See http://earththeoperatorsmanual.com/landing/watch-share Each of the three programs has its own page: http://earththeoperatorsmanual.com/feature-video/earth-the-operators-manual http://earththeoperatorsmanual.com/feature-video/powering-the-planet http://earththeoperatorsmanual.com/feature-video/energy-quest-usa Our goal is to deliver a suite of materials that can be used by schools that require all first year students to read a single book on critically important topics to promote interaction and engagement among and between their first-year cohorts. The content is also suitable for subsets of students such as students in honors programs and in interdisciplinary courses. Our package of climate change education resources and materials includes: 1.The book "EARTH: The Operators' Manual" (ETOM), provided at a discount by the publisher, to be used as either a required text or optional reading for first year students. 2.Segments and clips from the PBS ETOM series (hosted by Richard Alley). 3.Special opportunities for cyber-enabled and live interactions with Dr. Alley via webinar, Google Hangout on Air, or other emerging technologies. 4.Option to take the Penn State/Coursera Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), "Energy, The Environment, and Our Future", taught by Dr. Alley and offered through Penn State 5.Access to thousands of high quality encyclopedia style articles and other information about a wide range of climate change science and solutions through the Climate Adaptation and Mitigation E-Learning (CAMEL) web resource www.CAMELclimatechange.org 6.Additional digital content such as an e-book version of ETOM, energy-saving apps and podcasts available through both CAMEL and P2K/GHSPi 7.Interaction between students at different schools through the ETOM Facebook site and other social media.
3:45pm
Read for the Earth: New Model for Live Engagement in an On-line Large Section Undergraduate Introductory Course
Russanne Low, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies

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Climate in Crisis is a 3 credit, large section online course taught at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Climate in Crisis is certified as one of the university's Achievement Centered Education (ACE) general education courses built on student learning outcomes that answer the fundamental question, "What should all graduate students-irrespective of their majors and career aspirations know or be able to do upon graduation? Students in Climate in Crisis engage with other students nationwide through Google Hangouts and Twitter feeds, and share their concerns via public service announcements posted to YouTube. This presentation discusses outcomes of the pilot project.
4:00pm
Discussion