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ConcepTest: Determining Numbers of Plates

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


Examine the map and answer the question that follows. X, Y, and Z represent continental lithosphere, the blank areas represent oceanic lithosphere. How many plates are present?
Determining Numbers of Plates
a. 3
b. 4
c. 5
d. 6

Student Responses:

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

a. 3 (26%/0%)
b. 4 (19%/18%)
c. 5 (44%/75%)
d. 6 (11%/7%)

in a small (< 60 students) environmental geology class.

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