Developing Research Based Laboratories for Introductory Physical and Historical Geology
Wednesday 4:30pm-5:45pm Student Union: Ballroom B
Poster Session Part of Wednesday Session
In 2014, a 5 year grant from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) was awarded to The University of Texas at El Paso to create research based labs in introductory courses in the College of Science. In the 2016-2017 academic year the Department of Geological Sciences added 1 section of research based physical and historical geology labs. Geological Science majors are strongly encouraged to participate in these labs, but any interested students are admitted to the labs. A marketing video was created for freshman orientation in order to promote the labs. In Fall 2016 a total of 14 people registered for the physical geology lab, where 60 % were geology related majors, 30% were in other STEM majors and 10% were non-STEM majors. A similar distribution of majors was observed in the Spring 2017 historical geology lab, with three students continuing from the fall lab. The first 6 weeks of both courses focused on developing geoscience skills such as reading maps and keeping field notebooks. Both courses had a shallow subsurface geophysical field research experience that focused on soil changes along the Rio Grande. We also used some units from the InTeGrate modules on "Exploring Geoscience Methods" and "Climate of Change". The students enjoyed the field experience and a laboratory based on soil analysis. In the first semester student attendance and completion of online, pre-lab assignments was poor. Students also had low computer skills and difficulty making predictions and drawing conclusions. We modified the lab based on those problems and have seen much improvement in performance.