Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience > ConcepTests > ConcepTest Examples > ConcepTest: Cross-Sections of Plate Boundaries
Explore Teaching Examples | Provide Feedback

ConcepTest: Cross-Sections of Plate Boundaries

ConcepTest questions by David McConnell, David Steer , Walter Borowski, Jeffrey Dick, Annabelle Foos, Jeffrey Knott, Alvin Konigsberg, Michelle Malone, Heidi McGrew, Kathie Owens, and Stephen Van Horn


The map below shows the plate configurations along the western margin of North America. Which of the four diagrams on the right best represents a cross section through the outer layers of Earth along the line X-Y?
Pacific North American plate boundary PacificNorth American plate boundary

Student Responses:

The correct response is A.
Percentage of students choosing this answer. (% Before Discussion/% After Discussion):

a. (40%/60%)
b. (35%/40%)
c. (10%/0%)
d. (15%/0%)

in a small (< 60 students) physical geology lab section

Instructor's comments:
I asked for students to explain their reasoning. Those that answered B didn't notice or understand the divergent boundary off the coast. This question was a good way to discuss the reason for the convergent boundary off of WA coast and transform boundary of the CA coast.

If you would like to help acquire more Before and After statistics for this example, please contact the authors (see link at top of page).

References and Notes:



Resource Type

Activities:Classroom Activity:Short Activity:ConcepTests

Grade Level

College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level

Ready for Use

Ready to Use

Earth System Topics

Solid Earth:Plate Tectonics




Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience, Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Plate Tectonics