Measuring Student Learning Gains and attitudes in Earth and Environmental class for pre-service teachers after additional assignment to rocks and mineral identification lab
Our goal as geosciences educators is to increase student learning and facilitate positive attitudes towards Earth science. This study measures the effects of a student project in Earth and Environmental Science Concepts I for Educators, a required class for Wright State University pre-service teachers. After they complete after the rock-and-mineral identification labs, the students research and present the common uses of a select mineral in society as groups. Students in each semester were graded mostly on developing a topic and critical thinking, along with grammar and citation.
Fall semester pre/post-tests about geologic concepts and rocks and minerals show some learning gains, and the class average pre/post-test grade improved overall. These students reported that they gained moderate to good confidence levels and were less intimidated by geologic concepts after the assignment, but expressed little no interest or enthusiasm in taking more classes in geology. Fall semester projects had students work together to write a paper and presentation resulting in high grades with an average 95%, but it was evident from the presentations that some students participated more than others.
In spring semester, students were required to write papers individually before creating presentations as small groups to increase student involvement. The average grade on the paper declined to 84%, but the contribution of each student to the presentation was visibly greater. Students felt little to moderate confidence before the assignment, according to preliminary spring-semester data.
This study is important for the purpose of better learning in geology classes particularly for pre-service teachers who will want to also cultivate better learning in their own future classes.