Exploring methods for teaching 3D introductory geology content: Analyzing the influence of 3D teaching methods and virtual learning environments
Studies show that students' 3D spatial skills are correlated to their success in various scientific domains, including geology. In recent years, online classes are growing more popular in all STEM fields, making the connection between spatial skills and online classes in geology courses imperative. The purpose of our study is to explore the efficacy of the following instructional methods in online versus in person learning settings: static 3D models/representations versus dynamic demonstrations which show the movement of a 3D process. This study will take place in an introductory level dynamic geoscience course, Geology 004, Natural Hazards and Disasters, at the University of California, Riverside, a majority minority school. This course is geared towards non-science majors. We will be evaluating students' 3D spatial skills, how well students are able to take the perspective of a 2D object drawn in a 3D space, using a version of Guay's visualization of views test (Guay & McDaniels, 1976) We gauge these spatial skills before and after a student undergoes three assigned lessons to see if these students improve as a result of their instructional condition. Students in six of the course sections were taught online while the other six were taught in person. 3D models, 3D demonstrations, and homework review will be compared across and within both environments.
We will study the effects of student demographics, various teaching environments and strategies, how they affect spatial skills, and the overall performance of students in the geoscience course. The study was implemented with the help of online teaching tools; Google Earth, IRIS Earthquake Browser, Visible Geology, WebGIS and Zoom; along with 3D demonstrations, 3D prints, and handmade models. The end results will be analyzed to identify the most effective andragogy to teach these introductory geoscience courses.