Oral Session I

Wednesday 12-2:30pm PT / 1-3:30pm MT / 2-4:30pm CT / 3-5:30pm ET Online
Oral Session Part of Oral Session I

Session Chairs

Jason Jones, North Carolina State University
Melissa Zrada, The College of New Jersey

Each oral session will run over a 2.5 hour period. Each talk will be 15 minutes in length, and there will be a 25 minute break halfway through the session. The schedule for this session is posted below.

Session Connection Info

This session has already taken place

12:05 PT / 1:05 MT / 2:05 CT / 3:05 ET
A Hybrid Kinesthetic-Visual-Inquiry Based Approach to Heighten College-Level Students' Understanding of Plate Tectonics: An Evidence Based Study
Melanie Will-Cole, Central New Mexico Community College

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One of the most critical science phenomena which geoscience students are expected to comprehend is plate tectonics (PT), a physically, chemically and mathematically complex process that is too immense and too slow to visually and temporally observe in real-time. PT is fundamental to all areas of geoscience and most geoscience students struggle with understanding its core-concepts. Since PT theory, the unifying theory of geology, has significant and far-reaching consequences across all fields of geoscience (it provides the basis for relating many seemingly unrelated phenomena) it is critical for all geoscience students to attain a fundamental and conceptual understanding of this theory. We have created a high-fidelity learning-module, referred to as the PT-"Integrated Pedagogical Module" (IPM). The IPM is an educational instrument whereby a physics-based interactive computer simulation is used in tandem with an inquiry-based worksheet, namely the Guided Inquiry Worksheet (GIW). The GIW is a is a flexible "science-as-practice" tool which guides student-learning and inquiry as they manipulate physical variables and perform experimental analyses via the interactive-computer simulation which models the plate tectonic process. The simulated modeling environment provides students the opportunity to observe and explore the PT processes, interactions, and consequences while at the same time allows them to manipulate/measure process variables as well as to modify the model's time scale, i.e., to stop and/or slow or speed up the simulated process which in-turn aids student learning by making the interpretation of certain aspects of the phenomena easier. This presentation discusses evidence-based research demonstrating the student-learning benefit of the IPM for understanding plate tectonics. The effectiveness of the IPM pedagogy was attained by evaluating students' knowledge-gain and depth of understanding of the underlying scientific concepts consummated through the IPM. Additionally, student-learning behavior and exploration-engagement were assessed via independent/unbiased observation of the in situ pedagogical environment and student surveys.
12:20 PT / 1:20 MT / 2:20 CT / 3:20 ET
Evaluating Affective Learning Using VR Field Trips
Derek Turner, Douglas College
Dixon Cohee, Douglas College

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Field trips are essential in Earth Science for reinforcing key concepts and for generating enthusiasm for the discipline. Unfortunately, access to these valuable experiential learning opportunities is increasingly limited by cost, lack of resources, liability concerns and student work and family commitments. Open access, virtual reality (VR) field trips that simulate the types of learning experiences students have in the field provide a possible means of overcoming some of these barriers. VR field trips do not attempt to replace traditional field trips, but instead offer more accessible alternatives for students who are not able to participate and bring students to remote locations beyond the reach of most field trips. There has been an increase in the amount of research focusing on the cognitive benefits of using VR technology, but there has been little work exploring the impact different types of VR have on affective learning (e.g. interest, motivation, etc.), despite the important role field trips play in developing a passion for Earth Science. This presentation attempts to address this gap by: 1) comparing pre- and post-field trip surveys of students at a two-year college who participated in traditional field trips with surveys from similar students who interacted with a VR field trip; and 2) comparing affective learning gains of students taking the field trip using a relatively simple, photosphere-based online or headset/phone interface with those of students taking the same field trip using a more immersive, Vive-based interface. Demographic analysis of these data suggests that there are benefits of using different types of VR technology for certain minority groups that would otherwise face obstacles to interacting with traditional field trips.
12:35 PT / 1:35 MT / 2:35 CT / 3:35 ET
The Role of Virtual Reality in Science Education: A Literature Review
Kevin Hurler, Medical University of South Carolina
Katherine Ryker, University of South Carolina-Columbia

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Earth is a complex web of interconnected systems and feedback loops, including both the natural and anthropogenic spheres that govern our planet. Relating these systems, a process called earth systems thinking, helps students better understand the relationships between the different spheres of Earth, resulting in a more thorough knowledge of geoscience (Soltis, McNeal, Forbes, & Lally, 2019). However, the task of understanding these relationships is frequently challenging for undergraduate students, such as those enrolled in introductory geology courses (Soltis et al., 2019). Emerging technologies, such as virtual reality, show promise in aiding students' abilities to sift through complex data spaces quickly and efficiently (Salzman, Dede, Loftin, & Chen, 1999). Virtual reality (VR) appears frequently and is well studied as a tool for education in subjects such as physics, biology, and medicine (Dede, Salzman, & Loftin, 1996; Haluck & Krummel, 2000; Shim et al., 2003), but is still in the early stages of implementation in the geosciences. In order to understand best practices with VR in college science settings, we have conducted a systematic literature review of peer-reviewed articles published between 1999-2019 on VR in science classrooms. Each article was reviewed using St. John and McNeal's Strength of Evidence Pyramid (2017). Preliminary results indicate that the majority of articles on VR can be found at the lower levels of practitioner wisdom/anecdotal evidence and single case studies. Effective uses of VR include desktop virtual experiences with emphasis on instructor scaffolding as students acclimate to this new technology, as well as special attention to cognitive overload (Mayer, Mautone, & Prothero, 2002). Further, a degree of adaptative feedback and interactivity with the experience has the ability to increase student knowledge and engagement (Mead et al., 2019).
12:50 PT / 1:50 MT / 2:50 CT / 3:50 ET
Undergraduate students' questions about earth science data visualizations over the course of a semester
Melissa Zrada, The College of New Jersey
Kimberly Cook, The College of New Jersey
Kofi Koranteng, The College of New Jersey
Brooke Martin, The College of New Jersey

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Students' questions provide unique insight into their understanding of course content. However, student questions are not often the focus of education research. Previous work on student questions has focused on what types of questions undergraduates ask about earth science data visualizations (Kastens, Zrada, Turrin, 2019). The goal of this follow-up study is to investigate if and how earth science students' questions evolve over the course of a semester. In this small pilot study, twelve undergraduate students from a small liberal arts college explored earth science data visualizations using the PolarExplorer iPad application (http://www.polar-observer.org/PolarExplorerHome.html), and were prompted to ask questions about what they viewed. All students were enrolled in an earth science course at the time of the study. Participation took place once at the beginning of the semester and again at the end of the semester. Questions will be coded using an existing taxonomy, designed for coding student questions about earth science (Kastens, Zrada, Turrin, 2019). This taxonomy includes overarching categories such as "Questions about the Data" and "Questions about the Earth," with a total of twenty-four possible sub-categories. Additionally, taxonomic sub-categories pertaining to questions about data and the earth are associated with a level of Bloom's Taxonomy, as an indicator of question depth. Results will explore what types of questions students who are currently enrolled in an earth science course ask, and if/how these questions evolve over the course of a semester. These findings would inform earth science educators, providing further insight into their students' understanding, potential misconceptions, and growth. Future work would focus on a larger sample of students in one specific earth science course.
1:05 PT / 2:05 MT / 3:05 CT / 4:05 ET
Break

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Twenty-five minute break.
1:30 PT / 2:30 MT / 3:30 CT / 4:30 ET
The Effect of Computer-based vs. Paper-based Testing on Student Test Scores
Nancy McKeown, MacEwan University
Karen Buro, MacEwan University

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The goal of this project was to determine the effect of computer-based vs. paper-based testing on students' test scores in an introductory geology course. This study was conducted in two lecture sections taught by the PI at a Canadian undergraduate teaching university. For each test, there were students from each section who wrote on computer and who wrote on paper and there are test scores both on computer and on paper for each student. In this course, students (N=103) wrote five unit tests. Each student wrote two tests on paper and two tests on the computer using the test application of the learning management system, Blackboard. For the fifth test, each student chose the format they preferred to use; there was equal preference for writing on computer and on paper. For each of the first four tests, half of each section wrote on computer and the other half wrote on paper. This incomplete block design was analysed with an ANOVA, testing which factors might affect student tests scores. Results indicated that the most important factor affecting student test scores was the individual student and that there were no significant differences in the mean test scores for the different tests or the different formats. This indicates that this study did not provide evidence that the test format had an impact on mean student test scores.
1:45 PT / 2:45 MT / 3:45 CT / 4:45 ET
Learning outcomes of the educational board game Taphonomy: Dead and Fossilized, evaluated with high school learners in a summertime out-of-school program
Estefania Salgado-Jauregui, The University of Texas at Austin
Rowan Martindale, The University of Texas at Austin
Enrique Reyes, Akins Early College High School
Kathy Ellins, The University of Texas at Austin
Anna Weiss, University of Belize Environmental Research Institute

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Educational games are designed to help students retain educational material, gain a deeper understanding of concepts, and become innovative problem solvers. Like other active learning activities, games have been shown to increase academic achievement and improve students' attitudes towards learning science. Despite the benefits of engaging students through educational games, little work has been done in terms of game development or assessment for geoscience-focused games. Thus, the integration of such games in Earth Science curricula requires research to validate the learning outcomes of this educational strategy. Here, we evaluate the use of the board game "Taphonomy: Dead and Fossilized" as an active learning tool in secondary school classrooms (grades 9-12) to teach the players about fossilization, the history of life, and Earth systems thinking. We hypothesize that students playing the game will acquire and retain geosciences knowledge, while developing important scientific skills (e.g., Earth systems thinking, identifying cause-effect correlations) through engagement and enjoyment. Our methods include qualitative and quantitative analysis to assess the learning outcomes of the game. More specifically, we have used semi-structured interviews to learn about the teachers' experience implementing the game as well as the observed learning outcomes and the level of engagement of the students, compared with a regular lecture. A lesson plan was developed to support the board game activity and included formative and summative questions for the students; teachers reported the results of these assessments in their interviews. An observation protocol was also implemented and observers were interviewed as an independent assessment of the students' and instructors' behaviors while playing the game and completing the associated activities. The results of these test plays as well as the subsequent interviews provide evidence of the effectiveness of using Earth science board games as educational tools in secondary classrooms.
2:00 PT / 3:00 MT / 4:00 CT / 5:00 ET
How do students choose to assess themselves prior to exams? Investigating the effects of implementing a "dynamic" quizzing feature within a web-based assessment tool.
Jason Jones, North Carolina State University
David McConnell, North Carolina State University

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Students are often unaware of potential gaps in their knowledge while preparing for course exams until it is too late. As a result, we developed a web-based assessment tool called the Confidence-based Learning Accuracy Support System (or "CLASS"). CLASS collects and operationalizes student confidence to generate metrics that highlight content areas where students excel, where they falter and areas where their level of confidence does not match their demonstrated mastery (i.e., their perceptions of their abilities are not accurate). As a result of implementing CLASS within a large-enrollment (i.e., ~100 per semester) introductory physical geology course, student outcomes (e.g., performance, perception accuracy) improved. These first iterations of use, however, relied upon quizzes that drew questions at random (10 per attempt) from question banks that were built from a sequence of learning objectives that were determined and arranged by the instructor. While these results were promising, we began to wonder, what would happen if we gave students control of their formative assessment? After a semester of development, in the Fall 2019 semester we provided students the ability to customize their use of CLASS via a new feature titled Dynamic Quizzing. Dynamic Quizzing allows students to generate personalized quizzes based on course learning objectives of their choosing. To inform selections, we provide students their demonstrated levels of performance, confidence, and how these values compare to one another (a metric called bias). We will discuss how students used the new feature including which topics they chose to study, when they chose to study, and whether or not they selected the topics for which they truly needed the most practice. Finally, we will discuss how these behaviors affected exam outcomes for different populations of students.
2:15 PT / 3:15 MT / 4:15 CT / 5:15 ET
The True Cost of Participation – Addressing Financial Barriers to Field Education
Antoinette Abeyta, University of New Mexico-Main Campus
Anjali Fernandes, Denison University
Robert Mahon, University of New Orleans
Travis Swanson, Georgia Southern University

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Fieldwork is often cited as a critical component of geoscience education, and is an opportunity for individuals to gain and develop valuable technical skills necessary for entering the workforce. It is estimated that a typical geoscience undergraduate degree would require upwards of 30-60 days of field work. Despite these field experiences being critical to student development, there is limited research on how they present financial and social barriers to participation. Whereas the cost of field camp is acknowledged as a potential barrier to participation in geosciences, the cost of field gear and costs associated with participation in field activities (e.g., travel, loss of wages, cost of dependent care) is not well addressed. As geosciences continues to have low rates of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity, it is necessary to examine how the expectations for field education can present barriers to participation. We undertake this study to determine the range of costs associated with fieldwork conducted over a period of 5 days. For this analysis, we collected ranges of costs of field gear, airfare, and lodging from top retailers. We also estimated the cost of dependent care and loss of wages in that time frame. Such a field endeavor can cost upwards of 2,000 US dollars per student participant. We also examined how the cost of field gear differs across gender. We show that women's gear on average costs an additional 40 US dollars, which creates an additional financial burden. Presented here is a model of field education designed to increase participation amongst underrepresented groups in geoscience by 1) providing financial support to its participants through field gear stipends and 2) compensating students for their field work contributions. We believe this model will broaden participation in field education and research, without placing the economic burden of participation on students.