Earth Educators Rendezvous > Previous Rendezvous > Rendezvous 2016 > Program > Oral Sessions > Student Learning & Program Design

Student Learning & Program Design

Wednesday 1:30pm-4:00pm Weeks Geo: AB20
Oral Session

Session Chairs

Jennifer Roberts, University of Kansas Main Campus
Barbara Bruno, University of Hawaii at Manoa
2:45pm
Geoscience Education and the Larger STEM Agenda
Cathy Manduca, Carleton College

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From developing critical thinking skills to supporting success for all students, geoscience education activities are playing a major role in supporting bigger agendas in higher education. Drawing on recent experience working with the AAAS Education Section, the National Academies Board on Science Education, and other interdisciplinary STEM initiatives, in this talk I will share my reflections on the intersection of geoscience activities and those taking place in the broader arena.
3:15pm
Models of program – scale change: Common elements in the implementation of the InTeGrate design philosophy and teaching materials
Cailin Orr, Carleton College
Cathy Manduca, Carleton College
John McDaris, Carleton College
Carol Baldassari, Endicott College

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Solving the Earth-related grand challenges facing society and building a sustainable future requires both an Earth literate public and a workforce that can bring geoscience to bear on tough societal issues. Developing widespread Earth literacy, the InTeGrate program supports learning and teaching about the Earth in the context of societal issues both within geoscience courses and across the undergraduate curriculum. This is done using a systems approach and curriculum design that embraces five guiding principles highlighting interdisciplinary and systems-thinking as well as authentic inquiry. Connecting geoscience education to societal challenges has the potential to increase enrollment in geoscience and allied courses, thus strengthening the field while serving society. However, new curriculum alone is not sufficient to prompt the shift in how Earth education is perceived and practiced that is needed to meet the program goals of a sustainable future. To develop replicated models of change, the InTeGrate materials and approach have been being implemented by 16 teams from institutions across the US to meet program-scale goals including increasing the participation of students from under-represented groups, including Earth related curriculum in non-geoscience programs and strengthening workforce preparation. Emerging from these implementation programs are common elements and themes that have led to their successes. These programs are in the process of publishing models of ways to bring geoscience to a diverse range of disciplines, institutions, and networks and will provide the documentation and resources necessary to help other groups implement similar programs. Here we will synthesize common elements of successful programs and introduce the published models.
3:00pm
Geology in the Field: Assessing and Redesigning Field Courses to Improve Student Learning in the Geology Program at CSU, Chico
Rachel Teasdale, California State University-Chico
Hannah Aird, California State University-Chico
Todd Greene, California State University-Chico
Ann Bykerk-Kauffman, California State University-Chico
Russell Shapiro, California State University-Chico

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A suite of three required field courses at CSU, Chico provides early and repeated exposure to field experiences throughout the junior and senior year of geology majors. Five faculty members teach the suite of field courses in rotation but have only recently begun to systematically examine the integration of the courses for their impact and support of each other and on other courses in the geology curriculum. With internal campus funding, all geology faculty visited five field areas in southern California together in January 2016. From this, faculty are developing activities for non-field courses that incorporate and support learning objectives of field courses. Examples include using suites of samples from the field areas in the Mineralogy & Lithology and Paleontology courses; introduction to regional geologic histories of field areas in Historical Geology and the integration of structural problems from the field in Structural Geology. We expect that this integration of on-campus activities with field courses will result in more cohesive experiences for faculty to scaffold content throughout the curriculum, to improve student learning. We have also developed and begun administering a survey to measure student learning and confidence. Early results include significant increases in student confidence in their ability to complete field based tasks (e.g. use of a Brunton, with improvement of 2.4 out of 5 Likert scale points) during the first field course. This confidence is mirrored in some content learning questions which show improvement in the mechanics of field work before and after the first field course. Interpreting field relationships also improve but areas with lower learning gains highlight areas that need improvement, which will be addressed in field and campus-based course activities. Given the collaboration of all faculty involved, this ongoing work will inform ongoing modifications to the geology curriculum at CSU, Chico.
3:30pm
An Inexpensive, Faculty-led School-Wide Undergraduate Course Transformation
Barbara Bruno, University of Hawaii at Manoa
sarah bean sherman, University of British Columbia
Sara Harris, University of British Columbia

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Efforts to fundamentally transform undergraduate geoscience instruction at a school-wide level are generally institutionally driven and supported. For example, the Carl Weiman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI), which transformed science education at University of Colorado and University of British Colombia, employs numerous Ph.D.-level Science Teaching and Learning Fellows to work one-on-one with faculty to improve pedagogy. The SEI model involves redesigning courses based on learner-centered approaches that have been shown to produce significant learning gains. The program has been highly successful, but the cost is prohibitive for most universities to adopt. Here, we describe a nascent faculty-led effort to invoke many aspects of the CWSEI model at a much lower cost at the University of Hawaii (UH). Thirty faculty across the ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences have signed up to date. Rather than employing Science Teaching and Learning Fellows to support faculty, we place a larger responsibility on faculty to support each other through cooperative learning communities. A modest grant from the NSF Improving Undergraduate Science Education (IUSE) Geopaths program will be used to bring in CWSEI coaches from UBC. Their role is to share a range of proven instructional and assessment strategies, and to train faculty in their use. A key premise is that it is the geoscience faculty who are responsible for designing, implementing and evaluating an educational research experiment of their own choosing. The instructors are the experimenters, not the subjects of an SEI-led experiment. This project is not only evidence-based, but evidence-generating. At UH, we have a rare opportunity to generate a solid picture of the state of teaching and student learning before any transformation takes place, which will contribute to the body of literature on the efficacy of course transformation. Results from specific course transformations will contribute to the literature on effective learning within sub-disciplines, such as geology and oceanography.
3:45pm
Discussion
1:30pm
Student Learning of Complex Earth Systems, Part II: Student Engagement in Problem Solving & Decision Making About Environmental Issues
Lauren Holder, Texas A & M University
Hannah Scherer, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Bruce Herbert, Texas A & M University

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Engaging students in authentic problem solving concerning environmental issues in near surface complex earth systems involves both developing student conceptualization of the earth as a system and applying that scientific knowledge using problem solving techniques that model the thinking and reasoning of professionals, including adaptive management, risk assessment, and characterization of ecological services. As part II of a review of student learning about complex earth systems, this talk will describe our framework that guides our critical review. We derived this framework from our synthesis of environmental and educational research on environmental management, decision-making and problem solving. We will apply this framework to review case studies at both the undergraduate and K-12 level involving environmental earth systems, methodology to promote student problem solving including student modeling, assessments to measure students ability to problem solve and learn, and finally, identify the limitations of these assessments and examine the linkage between problem solving, decision making, and solutions to problems at a policy or management level. We seek comments and critiques from the Rendezvous participants
2:15pm
Impact of classroom transformation on gender inequality in DFW rates ("D" or "F" grade or Withdraw)
Jennifer Roberts, University of Kansas Main Campus
Noah McLean, University of Kansas Main Campus
Greg Baker, University of Kansas Main Campus
Andreas Möller, University of Kansas Main Campus

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Implementation of engaged learning practices into geoscience classes affords students many advantages, including increased learning & performance, better retention of material, and reduction in achievement gaps between different student populations compared to more traditional, lecture-based or transmissionist approaches. To this end, we have transformed a large-enrollment (160-270 students) introductory geoscience course at KU over the past six semesters. The course is required for Geology majors, petroleum and architectural engineers, as well as serving as a natural science distribution requirement for undergraduates. Student activities include out-of-class reading & quizzes, use of classroom response systems, guided-inquiry in-class worksheets that utilize assigned groups and GoogleEarth, two-stage exams, and out-of-class group projects that require GoogleEarth inquiry & scientifically-written reports. Student performance in the transformed course has increased compared to the previous course. Sixty percent of students earn As or Bs in the transformed course compared to 47% in the previous course and we see a ~5% decrease in %DFW. For the geology majors and engineers who take the course as a degree requirement, 90% of these students meet the Geology B.S. degree learning outcomes at the basic or intermediate level. Because women consistently comprise 30-35% of the students, we compared performance between these students and their male counterparts. Women increased %AB earned by 30% and men by 10% in the transformed course. Further, in the transformed course %DFW for women was ~20% less than in the untransformed course and men ~5% less, with absolute DFW% identical between men and women in the transformed course. These data support previous studies demonstrating narrowing in student performance gaps with engaged learning practices. While women are underrepresented in the student population in this course, other groups are less represented and we hypothesize that these benefits extend to other underrepresented groups as well.
2:30pm
Break
2:00pm
Curriculum Design Patterns for Teaching with Authentic Geoscience Data
Kim Kastens, Columbia University in the City of New York
Ruth Krumhansl, Education Development Center

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A "design pattern" is a template for organizing and sequencing instruction that can be applied across multiple topics or concepts. For example, "think-pair-share" is a familiar and trusted design pattern for classroom instruction. Effective design patterns challenge and exercise human capacities for perception and cognition, and may also draw on social construction of knowledge within small groups or full classes. We are working to identify effective design patterns for engaging students in analyzing and interpreting complex Earth and environmental datasets in the context of challenging, authentic problems. In this presentation, we will share our analysis of instructional approaches that have been used in instructional materials developed by the InTeGrate project. These undergraduate-level materials cover a wide range of topics, but all are required to involve the use of "authentic credible geoscience data" and to engage with "geoscience-related grand challenge(s) facing society." The design patterns we have identified to date are as follows: In "Data Puzzles," the curriculum developer selects snippets of data that embody an important Earth phenomenon with a high insight-to-effort ratio. Students view static data visualizations, and answer a series of guiding questions, which ramp up from decoding to explanatory insight. In "Nested Data Sets," students collect and interpret a local data set, and then interpret an encompassing professionally collected dataset that expands beyond the student-collected data time and/or space. In "Predict-Observe-Explain," students predict what data from the system under consideration would look like under various conditions, based on a conceptual, physical or computational model. Then they access a database and compare their prediction to data. In "Hypothesis Array," students are provided with text descriptions or sketches of alternative working hypotheses for a process or structure. They access a database of relevant data, seeking to assemble evidence in support of one of the hypotheses.
1:45pm
Using confidence judgements to identify characteristics of students' metacognitive awareness and achievement in introductory geoscience courses
Jason Jones, North Carolina State University
David McConnell, North Carolina State University

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Metacognition is one's ability to recognize the workings and characteristics of their own knowledge and thought processes. In conjunction with the sensory, short-term, and long-term memories, a student's metacognitive awareness will dictate how they will interact with and internalize the course content they are being taught. It provides students with the ability to isolate important information, identify gaps in their knowledge, and can inform their decisions on what to study, when to study, and how to study in order to fill identified deficiencies. Educational psychology research on metacognition identifies monitoring - the ability to accurately monitor the level of one's own knowledge and to accurately compare this approximation to how they will perform during an assessment of that knowledge - as an important and predictive metacognitive skill. This monitoring activity is usually reported by the learner in the form of their confidence in knowing a particular item of course information. The calculated value that represents the gap between a student's confidence and their measured performance on an assessment is referred to as a student's calibration. Research shows that high-performing students generally exhibit high confidence and low calibration values (e.g. they are accurate in predicting their knowledge), while low-performing students are generally less accurate in their monitoring abilities. Research suggests that metacognition can be improved via sustained and explicit intervention, and that improvements in metacognitive skills such as calibration can compensate for low ability and insufficient knowledge in a discipline. For the earth educator, the systematic monitoring of students' metacognitive awareness via calibration values can provide an opportunity to discover areas of content knowledge that require more instructional attention, isolate students who are potentially harboring misconceptions regarding course materials, or identify the state of a number of other potential variables that affect the process of learning in the geosciences.