Earth Educators Rendezvous > Previous Rendezvous > Rendezvous 2016 > Program > Oral Sessions > Developing Geocompetencies

Developing Geocompetencies

Wednesday 1:30pm-4:00pm Weeks Geo: 140
Oral Session

Session Chairs

Rachel Headley, University of Wisconsin-Parkside
Steve Whitmeyer, James Madison University
1:30pm
This equation hurts my brain: Math Anxiety & Geoscience Students
Rachel Headley, University of Wisconsin-Parkside
Allison Liegler, University of Wisconsin-Parkside

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Math anxiety involves moderate to extreme fear, anxiety, and occasionally physical pain associated with anticipating or performing mathematical tasks. High levels of math phobia have been tied to students taking lower levels of math and choosing less quantitatively-challenging courses. However, as many scientific fields and jobs become more data-driven, math skills become more of an essential part of a scientist's tool kit. In previous studies of math anxiety, it has been shown that rewording math-based problems to include language that de-emphasizes the quantitative elements can work to reduce anxiety in higher-anxiety students; this can be as simple as using "problem-solving ability" instead of "math ability." In this study, a rebranding intervention has been used on low-stakes assessments, such as homework or non-graded quizzes. The control questions might contain math-anxiety triggering words, such as "calculate the Factor of Safety," whereas the intervention question might ask students to "provide evidence for slope failure" using given equations and their geoscience background. In a small geoscience program at a primarily undergraduate institution, math anxiety has been assessed using a standardized math anxiety rating survey embedded into a more general anxiety survey. Course grades and demographic information have also been collected, as higher math anxiety has been correlated with particular demographic groups. While conducting initial surveys, many student participants were eager to talk openly about their admitted anxiety in STEM classes. To formalize these conversations, during spring 2016, interviews are being conducted on a smaller subset of students to determine not only the basis and background of their possible anxieties but also whether they personally feel that research on anxiety is important. Currently, while sample sizes have been very small, the outcome of this study is being used to determine if interventions should used in most geoscience courses.
1:45pm
Teaching Geology to Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering Students
Patricia Gallagher, Drexel University
Robert Swan, Jr., Drexel University

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We teach the sole required geology course for undergraduate civil, architectural, and environmental engineering students at Drexel University. We are on the quarter system, so we have just ten weeks to undertake the daunting task of teaching them the geology they need as engineers. The students are generally in their third or fourth year of a five-year program. They have either had mechanics and construction materials or are taking those courses concurrently. Subsequently, most go on to take soil mechanics and foundation engineering, utilizing the material they learn in geology. The first five weeks, we cover minerals, igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, with a focus on how the intrinsic properties of minerals and rocks influence their engineering properties. The second five weeks, we cover rock mechanics, structural geology, earthquakes, and geomorphology, with a focus on how physical processes influence the engineering properties of rock masses. Our primary objective is for students to be able to explain how the engineering properties of geologic materials influence the design, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure and environmental projects. A second objective is for them to explain how infrastructure projects are influenced by their topographic, hydrologic, surficial soil and underlying geologic settings. The course typically has high enrollments (60 – 80 students). Currently, we have three hours of lecture and two hours of laboratory per week (four credit hours). Given time and space constraints, all of the students attend a single laboratory session in the classroom. The instructor and TA circulate around the room answering questions. As a result, each student gets very little time to interact with the instructor directly. We will discuss our methods of teaching geology to engineering students in a large course, including engineering-focused activities we have developed to help the students apply their engineering knowledge to geologic materials.
2:00pm
Interactive, Web-Based Geoscience Education Resources
Steve Whitmeyer, James Madison University
Declan De Paor, Old Dominion University
Callan Bentley, Northern Virginia Community College

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The geosciences are highly visual, and benefit greatly from computer visualizations, but also stress hands-on and tactile student experiences. Digital methodologies are recent additions to a toolkit of skills built upon analogue field and laboratory methods. Thus, geoscientists often face challenges with making the transition to technology-based teaching. In contrast, today's students are digital natives. They tend to approach learning differently because the use of digital devices has changed students' ways of thinking and learning. The GEODE (.net) project is developing digital geology resources to enhance geoscience education. These include virtual field experiences (VFEs), such as an interactive visualization of the breakup of the Pangaea supercontinent (geode.net/pangaea/) and GigaPan-based VFEs (geode.net/resources/gigapan/). We offer web-based challenges, such as EarthQuiz (.net) and the Fold Analysis Challenge (geode.net/fac/). EarthQuiz features web-hosted imagery, such as Street View, Photo Spheres, GigaPans, and Satellite View, as the basis for multiple-choice and geo-location questions. These questions can be grouped in themes relevant to geoscience courses. In the Fold Analysis Challenge, upper-level geology students fit planes to flatirons from Sheep Mountain, WY. After several are measured, students fit a fold axis and axial plane to the structure. Then they use bézier curves to fit a doubly-plunging fold structure to the virtual outcrop. We will demonstrate our web-based educational resources and hopefully encourage audience members to experiment and provide feedback. The GEODE research team is: Heather Almquist, Stephen Burgen, Cinzia Cervato, Gene Cooper, Paul Karabinos, Terry Pavlis, Jen Piatek, Bill Richards, Jeff Ryan, Ron Schott, Kristen St. John, Barb Tewksbury, and associated students. We are supported by NSF DUE 1323468 and Google Geo Curriculum Awards.
2:15pm
Incorporating an Augmented Reality Sandbox in an Online Geology Course
Christine Clark, Eastern Michigan University
Katherine Ryker, University of South Carolina-Columbia

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Learning in the geosciences requires students to use spatial thinking, including tasks such as making and interpreting geologic and topographic maps (Kastens and Ishikawa, 2006). The ability to think critically about spatial problems has been identified as one of the key skills of geoscience graduates (Mosher et al., 2014). It is also a challenging area for many students (Ishikawa and Kastens, 2005). The Augmented Reality Sandbox (ARS) is a 3-D model that allows students to see how contour lines change in real time as the surface is changed, thanks to software developed by Oliver Kreylos (2016). In addition to positive reactions from students (Woods et al., 2015), Giorgis et al. (2015) hypothesized that the ARS is a more effective tool for teaching topographic maps than traditional 2-D activities. As part of a larger study investigating the effectiveness of using an ARS in teaching topography, we are testing whether online students, who will not be able to freely interact with the ARS, would still benefit from seeing an ARS in action. Geology of the National Parks is a general education course predominantly offered online which includes an online laboratory component. This lab relies heavily on topographic maps to demonstrate the variation in land surfaces at the different parks, which in turn, reflects the underlying geology. A solid understanding of topographic maps, therefore, is crucial for students to truly succeed in the laboratory component of the course. In the past, students have been instructed on topographic map use with written text and short video segments. For the summer 2016 course, additional videos demonstrating topographic concepts using an ARS were developed and integrated with the traditional course materials. Here we present a comparison of student performance on topographic map interpretation questions between students in previous sections to students in the Summer 2016 section.
2:30pm
Break
2:45pm
Student-Developed Virtual Field Trips
Sherry D Oaks, sherry.oaks@colorado.edu
Sadredin Moosavi, RCTC

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Five faculty-mentored student-developed virtual field trips (VFTs) are planned during 2016-2017 in Colorado where geology and meteorology significantly affect weather and climate. The first of these presentations is already completed and will be shown and evaluated at Colorado Mountain Collage and Fort Morgan Community College (Colorado). These VFT student authors are: enrolled in science teacher preparation programs, majoring in geosciences at four-year colleges, or already employed in fields where science education is key such as environmental health. The VFTs highlight the interface between geology and meteorology to foster undergraduate interdisciplinary research, and to serve as a vehicle for peer-to-peer science outreach to other 2YCs. The students researched their field areas and completed their individual research projects in 2015. During 2016, they wrote and developed their presentations. As 1st & 2nd year undergraduates, these students used what they learned from in-classroom activities, laboratory experiences, and on-site field work to translate their own science investigations into VFTs which can be shared with other traditionally underrepresented populations nationwide. The student written, led, and produced VFTs are standalone presentations that serve as a model to introduce 2YC students to science field experience as well research and writing about science. It gives science teacher candidates and geoscience professionals opportunities to practice effective science communication. The outcome of the first Virtual Field Trip is an active teaching tool to engage 2YC students in peer-teaching actual field experiences. The authors submitted abstracts to present their work at GSA-Denver 2016, and hope to publish in the peer-reviewed NAGT site for use by other Earth and Atmospheric Science faculty. Faculty-mentored student-developed virtual field trips are a model for other Earth and Atmospheric Science faculty to facilitate such products with their students within their regions of the country, thereby fostering science literacy as well as science education and outreach.
3:00pm
Empowering the Student Voice in Place-Based Geoscience Education: From Field Trips to Case Studies
Sadredin Moosavi, RCTC
Sherry D Oaks, sherry.oaks@colorado.edu
Julie Bartley, Gustavus Adolphus College

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Geoscience education research strongly supports the use of place-based approaches to effectively teach Earth science content, particularly when working with general education students and members of underserved communities with traditional connections to the landscape. Place-based approaches are particularly powerful because they draw upon the personal connection of the learner to the landscapes under study. Successful geoscience programs have also long identified the value of field experiences in building excitement for geology and developing geoscience expertise. The reality of modern teaching environments, however, reduces access to traditional instructor-led field trips due to financial and accessibility limitations. Can the use of place-based approaches that draw upon and empower student connections to the landscape provide a bridge between these proven techniques? This presentation explores the use of case studies and virtual field trips developed by students to investigate and share the landscapes they care about as a partial solution to this challenge. How, and to what extent, empowering the student voice in the study of geology produces learning outcomes comparable with geoscience learning via instructor-led case studies and field trips will be examined by comparing student and instructor directed case studies, actual and virtual field trips involving general education students at liberal arts and community colleges.
3:15pm
Sustainable Rivers: Using Placed-Based Learning to Integrate Science Across the Liberal Arts Curriculum
Mark Sweeney, University of South Dakota

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As part of the InTeGrate implementation program, the University of South Dakota (USD) began incorporating science and sustainability issues related to the Missouri River into courses across the liberal arts curriculum. Greater than 65% of incoming freshman at USD are from South Dakota, and the last time they were exposed to Earth Science content was in the 8th grade. Our implementation program seeks to increase science literacy among undergraduate students by using placed-based learning and taking advantage of connections students have to the Missouri River, be it through a variety of recreational or cultural experiences, or having been impacted by the 2011 flood. Our network of faculty with various interests in the river utilized InTeGrate course modules and other river-related materials in English, Native studies, South Dakota history, honors speech, world geography, anthropology, business statistics, sustainability and earth science courses, among others. Initial responses from faculty are positive in that students appreciate the multidisciplinary connections being made in these various classes. Students in these courses completed a standard set of attitude surveys and pre- and post-content assessments utilizing Geoscience literacy questions and our own sustainability-related questions. We will present preliminary results of these assessment materials which will help to gage success of our implementation program. Ultimately, we hope that continuing this program will enrich and add meaning to liberal arts education in the university setting and serve as a model for place-based learning at other institutions where rivers play an important role in people's lives.
3:30pm
Community Tools and Support for Data Driven Education
Jon Pollak, Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc
Liza Brazil, Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc

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The CUAHSI Water Data Center is an NSF funded program that builds and maintains cyberinfrastructure for publishing and reusing water related environmental data. Through this program, which was originally funded in 2013, CUAHSI enables educators to develop place-based, data-driven lesson plans through the use of CUAHSI's web applications. The tools and data available make it possible for educators to customize lessons with observational data from specific areas of interest by capitalizing on CUAHSI's data catalog that includes United States federal agencies like the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. EPA, and NOAA, in addition to academic sources. This presentation will explain the tools and resources available from CUAHSI and discuss examples of how educators are integrating these tools into their classrooms.
3:45pm
Discussion