Evaluating the impact of student storytelling in introductory-level geoscience courses

Wednesday 12:50 PT / 1:50 MT / 2:50 CT / 3:50 ET Online


Erin Kraal, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
Laura Guertin, Penn State Brandywine

Knowing the important role introductory-level geoscience courses serve in recruiting majors and improving the science literacy of non-STEM majors, we hypothesized that a Student-Produced Audio Narrative (SPAN) assignment will increase students' personal connection to geoscience course content. We trained a cohort of faculty through our NSF-funded pilot study on how to design an engaging, flexible, and accessible assignment that has students generate and tell stories with simple audio recording and editing techniques. Faculty designed short-term to semester-long scaffolded assignments for students to complete in laboratory or lecture settings, ranging in formats from a radio call-in show to outdoor journey across a landscape. We gathered and analyzed quantitative and qualitative measurements from students that completed a SPAN assignment via a validated pre/post survey and semi-structured interviews. Our analysis of survey data showed that students experienced positive changes in personal relevance, sense of curricular innovation, and future intentions to study science. The student interview data show that the increased views of personal relevance and curricular innovation came from the creativity of this assignment format in an introductory-level geoscience course, as well as the flexibility instructors provided to students for completing their story and resulting audio file. These results show us the potential a SPAN assignment can have in an introductory-level geoscience course in improving student attitudes, engagement, and potential numbers of future geoscience majors.

Links to resources

Video - Student Produced Audio Narratives (SPAN), from 2019 STEM For All Video Showcase

Examples of SPAN assignments, available in NAGT's Teach the Earth:

Example SPAN assignment, from On The Cutting Edge:

Example SPAN assignments from Kutztown University, audio files from a general education planetary science course, that have been played on the campus radio station:

Related presentation at 2021 EER: