Initial Publication Date: July 12, 2018

Grand Challenge 3:

Assessment: How can we measure student experiences in the geosciences through the lens of self-regulation, motivation and affect using the most cutting edge research technology and methodologies?


There currently exists established methods, tools, and instruments within and outside of the geoscience education community (e.g., educational psychology, science education, other discipline based education fields, and cognitive science) for measuring affect (for a geoscience perspective, see McConnell & van der Hoeven Kraft, 2011) and processes associated with self-regulated learning (Panadero, 2017). The GER field should leverage and build on these approaches and apply them to the specific learning needs of students as they are engaging with geoscience content and developing skill sets within the variety of geoscience learning settings. Both research grade instruments and surveys, as well as classroom level assessments for instructor use should be targeted.

With the advancements and increases in the technology available to assess student variables in real-time (e.g., classroom response systems, course management systems), focus should be paid to developing novel ways to measure and record students' self-regulation, metacognition, and affect during the course of geoscience learning. In addition, technological approaches to measuring these variables should be designed to promote self-regulation and metacognitive behaviors during geoscience learning (both in-class and potentially in the field). Directed feedback related to the success and relative frequency of learning strategy use during technology-based learning has been shown to be effective in fostering self-regulative behavior (e.g., Fernandez & Yemet, 2017), improving metacognitive thought (e.g., Callender, Franco-Watkins, & Roberts, 2016) and increasing performance of students (e.g., Fernandez & Yemet, 2017). Additionally, real-time measurements of student engagement through wearable skin conductance devices (known as galvanic skin response or GSR) have been made in geoscience classrooms (McNeal et al., 2014). This technology can perhaps support both students and instructors in their self-assessment of their learning and teaching. Consequently, future technology should be designed to assess students' learning process in addition to their level of content knowledge. Such instruments have the potential to yield more effective geoscience learning (and teaching).

Recommended Research Strategies

  1. Given there are existing methods and approaches in other fields that can be leveraged by geoscience educators, it is important to explore the literature and expertise from fields outside the geosciences (education psychology, science education, cognitive science, other STEM discipline-based education fields) to ensure we are using the most valid, reliable, and up to date instruments, techniques, and methodologies.
  2. To ensure these instruments and methodologies are valid within the context of the geosciences, tests (e.g., lab based studies) need to be conducted with appropriate populations and disciplinary content using these existing techniques and tools. After validation occurs, they can then be applied more broadly and used in geoscience classrooms and field environments.