Thursday B: Broadening Participation and Student Development

Thursday 1:30pm-4:00pm Ritchie Hall: 368

Session Chairs

Alison Jolley, University of British Columbia
Kyle Fredrick, California University of Pennsylvania
1:30pm
Developing active student engagement and collaboration through the use of mobile technologies in inclusively-designed field courses
Ivan Carabajal, University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
Christopher Atchison, University of Cincinnati-Main Campus

Show Abstract »

Geoscience field studies are a common requirement for undergraduate degree programs in the geosciences. Instructional methods in traditional field-based courses combined with the rugged natural environment create barriers to the inclusion and participation of students with diverse physical and sensory abilities. To address accessibility in field-focused teaching and learning, a team of Geoscience Education and Instructional Technology researchers created and studied student engagement and learning within a two-year NSF-funded GEOPATH project. Through multi-day inclusive field-experiences, designed with collaboration and inclusion in mind, this project included two cohorts of participants with various levels of physical mobility. Throughout the project, all students were engaged in various field activities in sites across northern Arizona in 2016, and western Ireland in 2017. Mobile technologies were used to promote effective collaboration through communication and equity in data collection, allowing each student to actively engage in real-time, scientific discussion with their peers. Preliminary findings from this project provide insight to inclusively-designed coursework through the use of technology as well as how to facilitate effective social inclusion to promote engagement and learning. This presentation discusses key findings that support the impact of designing an inclusive community of learning that enables collaborative effort from all students, regardless of physical ability. The ability of all students to engage in the collaborative scientific process was vital in establishing an inclusive learning community.
1:45pm
Hooked on Active Tectonics: An Affective Comparison of Study Abroad and Local Students in New Zealand
Alison Jolley, University of British Columbia
Samuel Hampton, Frontiers Abroad
Erik Brogt, University of Canterbury
Ben Kennedy, University of Canterbury
Lyndon Fraser, University of Canterbury

Show Abstract »

Students who have studied abroad report greater self-confidence, long-lasting impacts on their worldview, and development of skillsets that influenced their future career paths. Field experiences offer similar benefits to geoscience students in the development of geoscientific identities and transferrable and workforce skillsets. These facets of student development are closely tied to the affective domain: emotion, motivation and connection to Earth. Here we compare the motivation and connection to Earth of study abroad students from the United States (n=23) with local New Zealand students (n=31) undertaking a similar (but separate) field trip in the South Island of New Zealand. All students completed questionnaires before and after their respective field trip. Findings indicate that study abroad students were more intrinsically motivated, less extrinsically motivated, and had higher task value and lower test anxiety than the local students. The study abroad students were more pro-environmental, which contrasts with differences seen between Americans and Kiwis in previous studies. Study abroad students were more attached to the field area and saw more positive and diverse meanings within it, even at the beginning of the field trip and with no prior visits to the field area. There was no change in either group's motivation or pro-environmentalism after the field trip. Both groups had higher place attachment and place meaning scores after the field trip, but the study abroad students remained significantly higher than the local students. In geoscience field trips abroad, it may be tempting to rely on local institutional knowledge and implement unchanged curricula. These findings highlight the importance of understanding specific students and contexts. To leverage student differences, we recommend that this study abroad field trip be adapted to be more environmentally-focused and place-based, attending to the human meanings and management of this tectonically active landscape.
2:00pm
Does user experience determine user success with a climate decision support system?
Lindsay Maudlin, North Carolina State University
karen mcneal, Auburn University Main Campus

Show Abstract »

A web-based decision support system (DSS), the Pine Integrated Network: Education, Mitigation, and Adaptation Project (PINEMAP) DSS, was developed to provide climate information for forestry stakeholders in the Southeast United States. The usability of the PINEMAP DSS was evaluated through tracking the eye movements of participants as they interacted with the various tools within the PINEMAP DSS. Two study populations were used: the first included 30 forestry professionals (18 males and 12 females; 21 to 65 years old; highest degrees included 6 undergraduate degrees, 17 master's degrees, and 6 doctoral degrees), and the second included 12 undergraduate students from introductory physical sciences courses (4 males and 8 females; 18 to 21 years old; grade levels included 2 freshmen, 8 sophomores, and 2 juniors). In addition to eye-tracking data, each participant answered a questionnaire and completed tasks related to the PINEMAP DSS. This study seeks to determine how user experience (measured by a combination of education level, age, work experience, and previous exposure to climate information) impacts the ways in which a user navigates and views the climate information within the PINEMAP DSS and the user's success in completing tasks and answering questions based on the information. By studying the differences between those with little experience (novices) and those with more experience (experts), recommendations can be provided to website developers to create DSSs that help novices perform more like experts and therefore better understand the climate information needed for their decision-making roles.
2:15pm
Understanding Undergraduate Student Conceptions about Biogeochemical Cycles and the Earth System
Nicholas Soltis, Auburn University Main Campus
karen mcneal, Auburn University Main Campus

Show Abstract »

Research has shown the highest level of understanding in the geosciences to be the ability to think about the Earth as a dynamic system (Stokes 2011). The Earth System contains four spheres: the geosphere, the hydrosphere, the biosphere, and the atmosphere. These spheres are linked through the biogeochemical cycles that move matter and energy through the various parts of the Earth System (Jacobson et al., 2000). Qualitative research has been done to understand undergraduate misconceptions in the geosciences (Arthurs, 2011), but there appears to be minimal work completed to examine students' alternate conceptions about biogeochemical cycles. This study aims to fill this gap by understanding how undergraduate students perceive fluxes and reservoirs of important elements within the Earth system; namely carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Through interviews, concept drawings, and a questionnaire containing pilot assessment questions, undergraduate students' conceptions and alternate conceptions about the Earth System and biogeochemical cycles were collected. Using a constructivist grounded theory approach consisting of both semi-structured interviews and concept drawings, this data was analyzed to paint a fuller picture of what students know and what they think they know about both the Earth System and biogeochemical cycles. Additional data on courses students have taken across the sciences was also collected to give a glimpse at how Earth System thinking and biogeochemical cycles are being explicitly or implicitly taught both in and outside of the geosciences. The broader goal of this study is to use these alternate conceptions to inform the development of an instrument designed to measure Earth Systems thinking through the lens of biogeochemical cycling.
2:30pm
Break
2:45pm
Dispositional Characteristics: An Important Dimension to Consider in the Development of an Inclusive Educational Organization.
Dave Gosselin, University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Ron Bonnstetter, TTI Success Insights

Show Abstract »

An ongoing challenge for higher education is preparing all students to effectively contribute to solutions for the many "wicked problems" and "grand challenges" that society faces. As educational organizations we need to foster an inclusive learning culture where the uniqueness of beliefs, backgrounds, talents, and capabilities of our students are welcomed and leveraged to create high quality learning experiences for them. A key factor in addressing this challenge is knowing and adapting to the differences in the dispositional characteristics of students. A person's disposition involves their beliefs, feelings and values (motivational drivers) that determine a person's characteristic actions and reactions (i.e. behaviors) to act in certain ways. These characteristics have the potential to influence the effectiveness of a variety of teaching and learning strategies. The Environmental Studies program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has partnered with TTI Success Insights® to employ an assessment instrument that provides information about the dispositional diversity of its students. We consider all students in the class room a member of the team. We use the concept of dispositional distance© to describe the inherent differences in dispositional characteristics between all students on the team and the differences that exist between professors and students in the classroom. The analysis of dispositional assessment data have informed us about the diversity in the behavioral styles and motivational drivers of students that influence their individual success in the classroom. Output from the assessment instruments provides verbal and visual models that reveals significant diversity about the how, why, and what of individual student performance. Analysis of these data have identified certain behavioral styles and motivational drivers that may be problematic to an individual student's academic success.
3:00pm
Friday Fun Day: Readings to improve Participation, Peer Support, and Content Knowledge
Kyle Fredrick, California University of Pennsylvania

Show Abstract »

While the action of reading is not a common barrier for science majors, reading comprehension is a limiting factor for many students. Geoscience students' performance depends on their ability to access and assimilate information, much of it containing new terminology and unfamiliar technical writing styles. The lack of reading comprehension skills throughout the student population is a growing problem, widening the achievement gap during a cohort's progression. Students that struggle with comprehension spend their time less efficiently, get frustrated and procrastinate, and generally lack confidence. We have identified three barriers related to poor reading comprehension skills: (1) diverging skills and content knowledge within a cohort, (2) a perceived disconnect between content, research, and relevance, and (3) a lack of time management. We devised a recurring class activity that encourages students to participate, support their peers, and improve reading comprehension. They are assigned readings a week in advance of each "Friday Fun Day," a 15-minute, game-style activity at the start of Friday lecture periods. Students draw numbers and are asked a corresponding question. For the two-point activity, all students present are awarded three points for correctly answering a majority of the questions or one point for failing to meet that standard. Learning gains are encouraging, but only anecdotal for now. Student attitude surveys reveal exciting results, especially related to self-confidence, attendance, and engagement in class and within their major. Overall, the method has improved class participation, increased student learning, and may even improve student writing. The method is flexible and might be adopted for multiple formats. Faculty from other institutions are being recruited to use and modify the method for their own purposes in hopes of finding strategies that may be implemented across a wide range of grade levels, class sizes, and content areas.
3:15pm
Discussion