InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Interactions between Water, Earth’s Surface, and Human Activity > Initial Ideas
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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The materials are free and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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Initial Ideas

Sue DeBari, Western Washington University; Julie Monet, CSU, Chico; Kyle Gray, University of Northern Iowa

Author Profile

This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

  • team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
  • multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
  • real in-class testing of materials in at least 3 institutions with external review of student assessment data.
  • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the InTeGrate materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
  • review by external experts for accuracy of the science content.

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection

Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.



This page first made public: Jan 22, 2015

Summary

In this preparatory activity, students' initial ideas about the concepts to be covered in the module are collected and shared with the class. No attempt is made to correct any misconceptions at this point. The process of collecting initial ideas from students is meant to lay the groundwork for metacognitive prompts throughout the module where students self-assess their learning and how their knowledge changes from beginning to end.

Learning Goals

Students will describe their initial ideas in order to be able to assess their own learning throughout the module.

Context for Use

Soliciting initial ideas is a common technique, tailored here for an introductory geoscience content course that is aimed primarily at pre-service teachers. It may be used as part of the Interactions between Water, Earth's Surface and Human Activity Module, which is designed to build a strong foundation of pedagogical content knowledge for teaching Earth science. This short activity is designed to foster group collaboration as students work in small groups (ideally in groups of 3–4) with faculty acting as the facilitator.

Description and Teaching Materials

(1 hour in class, or as pre-module homework)

Student handout (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 248kB Nov5 14))

Introduce the idea that you are beginning a new topic in class. You might specifically describe that this module is focused on surface processes driven by Earth's external energy source — the Sun — with explicit linkages to processes driven by Earth's internal energy source. Students will investigate the externally-driven processes that shape Earth's surface, such as the hydrologic cycle, and its links to the rock cycle. Students will examine the relationship of these external processes to societal issues such as floods, and the availability of natural resources such as drinking water. Students will also explicitly describe how internally-driven and externally-driven processes influence each other.

After this short introduction, ask students explain their initial thinking about the following questions (these questions can be found in the student handout linked above):
  1. What energy sources drive the processes in this image? Point to specific areas and label the source of energy.
  2. How does running water change the surface of Earth over time?
  3. Does that change you describe in Question 2 have an impact on humans? If so, how?
  4. Can that change you describe in Question 2 be impacted by humans? If so, how?

Students write down their own ideas first, then share their thinking in small groups. The small groups create displays to share their ideas with the rest of the class — these displays can be on small, portable whiteboards, poster-sized Post-it notes, or on whiteboards/chalkboards around the room. This is a sharing of ideas only, no trying to "convince" anyone that their ideas are right or wrong. Students will revisit their initial ideas at the end of the module to analyze how their ideas have changed.

After the small groups share their ideas with the rest of the class, they are prompted to write down ideas that were different from their own.

Students should hang on to handouts with their initial ideas, as they will refer to these at the end of the module to assess their learning.

Energy diagram introduction, if you are using them

Energy diagrams describe the way that energy is transformed and transferred during processes (see diagram below). The process is shown in the title (e.g., condensation, evaporation, etc.). The energy source is shown in one rectangular box, which is separated from an energy receiver in a second rectangular box. Sources and receivers are usually some kind of object, such as "water" or "rock" or "atmosphere." They are separated by an energy transfer arrow. Beneath the receiver is another circle with the type of energy that the receiver has increased in once the transfer has occurred. Depending on the process, the type of energy in those two circles may be the same or different (if the transfer was accompanied by an energy transformation).


If you are choosing to use the energy diagrams, you also want to introduce these prior to beginning the module. Students read and answer the questions on the handout about energy diagrams (Acrobat (PDF) 116kB Jul28 14) the day before the beginning of the module so they have the opportunity to ask questions at the start of the module. These are most effective when used several times throughout the module and/or course.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Be sure to give students ample time to write down their own ideas first, prior to conferring in small groups. You might give them the questions to do before class on their own, and then put them in small groups for a few minutes at the beginning of class. Make it clear that they do not need to convince each other who is right or wrong, and that their task is to show the range of ideas in their small group.

It can be challenging to avoid reacting or correcting misconceptions at this point when small groups present their initial ideas. However, your role as the instructor is to simply collect these ideas so that the students can refer back to them later and see how they have changed.

Assessment

This activity lays the groundwork for a metacognitive assessment at the end of the module and does not have a separate assessment. If desired, students' written responses to the questions can be collected for assessing common misconceptions, but these should not be assessed for accuracy at this point.

References and Resources

Image in the student worksheet in the initial ideas is from The Geological Society of London, which has granted permission for use of the image.

Teaching Themes

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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »