JGE 1998 - Volume 46


A Cooperative Learning Exercise Using Glacial Gravels
Daniel Rolf Tucker, University of Southwestern Louisiana
Melinda Riddler Tucker, University of Southwestern Louisiana
William Albert Rieck, University of Southwestern Louisiana

The importance of hands-on, minds-on analysis of data in science-education programs has been emphasized in various reform efforts. Cooperative learning in small groups also has become integral to reform education, where students must practice interdependence. The small group size assures that each student will have a significant role in the process.

Gravels deposited as a result of continental glaciation can be used to teach introductory-level earth-science students the application of the scientific method in a cooperative learning mode which utilizes hands-on, minds-on analyses. Processes that involve erosion, transportation, and deposition of pebble- and cobble-sized clasts are considered by students in formulating and testing hypotheses. The wide variety of represented rock types forces the students to consider regional and local provenances (source terranes) as well as what general type of sedimentary mechanism(s), that is, running water, moving ice, or wind, was involved in formation of the deposit. Each student group is required to present an oral report on its findings. An optional written laboratory report of the experience analyzing glacial gravels helps students to organize what they have learned and synthesize a general conclusion.

Full text (Acrobat (PDF) 611kB Sep12 05)
URL for this article: http://www.nagt.org/nagt/jge/abstracts/1998.html#v46p41


A Modular Earth-Science Curriculum
Richard Joseph Diecchio George Mason University
The Earth Systems Science (ESS) BS Program at George Mason University offers students a broad background in science and earth science and the opportunity to concentrate on one of several specialty tracks or modules: geology, geoarchaeology, geographic analysis, and earth-science education. The ESS Program evolved from the Geology BS Program and has become the mechanism by which our department has made the transition from geology to a broader approach to earth science. The ESS curriculum can serve as a model which other universities may find useful in planning future development of earth-science programs. Keywords: Earth science—teaching and curriculum; education—geoscience, education—undergraduate, geology—teaching and curriculum.
Full text (Acrobat (PDF) 73kB Feb28 06)
URL for this article: http://www.nagt.org/nagt/jge/abstracts/1998.html#v46p337

The Zen of Research
Leon Emry Borgman University of Wyoming
Major discoveries of new results almost always require intuitive leaps of understanding by the researcher during the course of the research. These, often unexpected, insights become more explainable within the context of current split-brain investigations in neuropsychology. The use of intuition in research has a long history within mathematics, statistics, and the sciences. A general framework for focusing all the capabilities of the brain on a research problem is outlined. This includes (1) intense analytic and logical preparation, (2) frustration and incubation within the subconscious and preconscious, (3) emergence of insights, (4) logical reconstruction and verification of the discovered relations, and (5) a return to step (1). Keywords: education—general; education—graduate; education—science; history of science; philosophy of science; science.
Full text (Acrobat (PDF) 99kB Feb28 06)
URL for this article: http://www.nagt.org/nagt/jge/abstracts/1998.html#v46p346

Inquiry Teaching and Its Effects on Secondary-School Students' Learning of Earth Science Concepts
Song-Ling Mao and Chun-Yen Chang National Taiwan Normal University
James P. Barufaldi University of Texas at Austin
The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of inquiry-based teaching and traditional teaching on student learning of earth-science concepts at the secondary-school level. A quasiexperimental non-equivalent control-group design was employed to identify any significant gains in student achievement. Students chosen to participate in the study included 232 earth-science students (9th grade) enrolled in six earth-science classes. The experimental group received two weeks of the inquiry-based instruction, whereas the control group received the traditional lecture-type instruction. Selected items from the Taiwan Indicators of Educational Progress in Science Process Skills and Taiwan Entrance Examinations for Senior High School were used to measure student learning of earth-science concepts. The data were analyzed with an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) on posttest scores with pretest as the covariate. The results indicated that students taught using inquiry-based instructional method scored significantly higher on the selected test items than those taught by a traditional teaching approach (F=6.75, p<.05). Most notably, there was significant improvement in achievement test performance, especially on the comprehensive (F =3.94, p.<05) and integrated (F=6.47, p.<0.05) test items but not on the "factual knowledge" (F = 3.43, p>0.05) test items. Keywords: Education—geoscience; education—secondary; education—outside United States.
Full text (Acrobat (PDF) 105kB Feb28 06)
URL for this article: http://www.nagt.org/nagt/jge/abstracts/1998.html#v46p363

A Demographic Survey Relevant to Earth-Science Teachers as Mentors and Role Models for Minority Students
Louis E. Zappo Central Middle School
In the United States, from the late eighties to the present, there has been a drop in the percentage of Whites earning scientific and engineering PhDs. If this trend continues, by the first decade of the next century there will be a large shortage of scientists and engineers. This problem is accentuated because individuals from minority populations do not appear to choose these fields as a career. In using New Jersey's population as a microcosm of the nation and looking at middle- and high-school earth-science teachers and the students they teach, we find that the earth-science-teaching population is predominately White and does not always reflect the student population. As a result, there is little chance for a minority student to have an earth-science teacher from his or her own cultural or ethnic group as a mentor/role model. The data also indicates that about one in five earthscience teachers harbors feelings of racial or cultural bias, and about three out of ten feel no need to encourage minority students to enter science or engineering as a career. Keywords: Earth science—general; earth science—teaching and curriculum; education—geoscience; education—precollege; geology—women and minorities.
Full text (Acrobat (PDF) 134kB Feb28 06)
URL for this article: http://www.nagt.org/nagt/jge/abstracts/1998.html#v46p368

A Simple Exercise About Awareness And Analysis of Error
Neil Andrew Wells Kent State University
Variability on the order of 1-2 mm between standard 30-cm (12-inch) rulers permits a simple but effective class exercise on the analysis of error, including the distinction between accuracy and precision. Keywords: Education—undergraduate; miscellaneous and mathematical geology.
Full text (Acrobat (PDF) 73kB Feb28 06)
URL for this article: http://www.nagt.org/nagt/jge/abstracts/1998.html#v46p421


Hands-On Laboratory Exercises for an Undergraduate Hydrgoelogy Course
Ming-Kuo Lee, Auburn University
The interdisciplinary nature of hydrogeology may create some dificulties for students, even at the introductory level, as they struggle to understand the interconnection between topics in geology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Because hydrogeology includes field, experimental, and theoretical (mathematical modeling) activities, teaching hydrogeology presents unique challenges and requires an innovative approach. This paper describes hydrogeology laboratory exercises that undergraduate students can use to (1) obtain hands-on, practical experience of field data acquisition using appropriate instrumentation and (2) experience the ground-water investigation process from field data collection to data analysis (by hand or by computational methods) and final interpretation. Through the field, experimental, and computational exercises, students become familiar with water sampling, water-level mapping, aqufer-testing techniques and data analysis, stream gauging, flow-net construction, data visualization, and ground-water modeling. This broad training better prepares students for environmental employment.
Full text (Acrobat (PDF) 669kB Mar6 06)
URL for this article: http://www.nagt.org/nagt/jge/abstracts/1998.html#v46p433

Can Earthquakes Be Predicted?
Michelle Hall-Wallace, University of Arizona

Modeling fault behavior with a simple slider-block apparatus can provide students with valuable insight into the difficulty of earthquake prediction and the complex behavior of Earth systems. I have developed an open-ended activity in which students are challenged to design an experiment that models fault behavior and to determine which variables in the Earth might affect the number or magnitude of earthquakes that occur. I have used the activity with secondary-school science teachers and their students, but it is also appropriate for undergraduate geoscience majors. Students are provided with materials to construct a fault model, but few instructions are given. Their investigations are guided by curiosity and a few key questions that I suggest they investigate in their experiment. Working in groups, the students design the apparatus, develop an experimental procedure, determine what to measure, and analyze their data. In the process, they learn how science is done and increase their level of scientific literacy (NRC, 1996).

The activity provides many opportunities for graphing and basic statistical analysis. In addition, students are introduced to the complexity of scientific problems and to the value and limitations of models. Data collected from a simple mechanical model correspond well with the observed behavior of real faults and can be interpreted in terms of basic models for earthquake prediction.

Full Text (Acrobat (PDF) 1.1MB Mar2 06)
URL for this article: http://www.nagt.org/nagt/jge/abstracts/1998.html#v46p439

The Godzilla Syndrome—Scientific Inaccuracies of Prehistoric Animals in the Movies Howard Ross Feldman Touro College
Jeffrey Wilson Sarah Lawrence College
The depictions of dinosaurs and other ancient animals in the movies have, almost without exception, sacrificed scientific accuracy in order to create exotic images of huge, terrifying creatures. The public's misconceptions of dinosaurs as bloodthirsty, ponderous beasts that co-existed with humans have been gradually changing over the years. Recent discoveries by paleontologists have made people, especially children, more aware of the facts. Students, in the courses "Adventures in Earth History" and "Principles of Paleontology," were assigned to review a video that depicted prehistoric animals with the idea of evaluating their scientific accuracy. The students' reviews demonstrated that they were able to detect fallacies regarding dinosaur ecology and behavior and arrive at conclusions based on scientific evidence. Class discussions ranged from dinosaur functional morphology and ichnology to an overview of dinosaur ecology. The assignment may be adapted for advanced courses, such as vertebrate paleontology, historical geology, or general biology classes. Keywords: Geology—public affairs; paleontology—vertebrate; reviews—films.

URL for this article: http://nagt-jge.org/doi/pdf/10.5408/1089-9995-46.5.456

Natural Disasters as a Unifying Theme for an Interdisciplinary Science Course
Patrick Leon Abbott San Diego State University
Ernest Zebrowski, Jr. Pennsylvania College of Technology
The subject of natural disasters offers a rich assortment of topics that can be selectively used by instructors to tailor-make a course for their unique populations of students. There is a large reservoir of student questions about active Earth processes. For science teachers who wish to convey the nature of scientific inquiry using unanswered questions of interest to their students, natural disasters present wonderful pedagogical opportunities. Keywords: Earth science—teaching and curriculum; education—undergraduate; natural disasters.
Full text (Acrobat (PDF) 95kB Feb28 06)
URL for this article: http://www.nagt.org/nagt/jge/abstracts/1998.html#v46p471

Slide observations; promoting active learning,landscape appreciation, and critical thinking in introductory geology courses
Stephen Reynolds and Simon M. Peacock Arizona State University
As part of a major constructivist-based, science-reform movement at our university, we have developed a type of in-class exercise we call a slide observation. The pedagogical sequence we follow during a slide observation is a learning cycle, consisting of three phases: exploration, term and concept introduction, and concept application. The exploration phase involves students observing a geological photograph, listing observations, and posing questions and possible explanations. We then have them think-pair-share and contribute their observations to the entire class. This is followed by a term- and concept-introduction phase, involving instructor-guided introduction of terms and elaboration of concepts, starting from the student observations and questions. The final concept-application phase of the learning cycle involves application, extension, and generalization of the lesson to new situations or locales. A learning-cycle approach is constructivist in philosophy because the students use their own observations and thoughts to construct personal concepts and mental frameworks. Slide observations engage the students and help them have fun, become more actively involved in their learning, develop critical-thinking skills, distinguish observation from interpretation, and practice communication with their peers.
Full text (Acrobat (PDF) 2MB Jan29 09)
URL for this article: http://www.nagt.org/nagt/jge/abstracts/1998.html#v46p476

A Critique of the "Research Basis" for the National Science Education Standards and the AAASBenchmarks for Science Literacy
Stan Metzenberg California State University Northridge
Although the authors and publishers of the National Education Standards (1996) and the Benchmarks for Science Literacy (1993) claim that their recommendations are based on sound, extensive research about the way children learn, in fact the evidence is generally weak and unconvincing. In some cases the studies cited misstate the cohort of students whose learning was examined. In others, the studies were based on relatively small groups of students, and in still others, the students whose learning was examined were from foreign countries whose cultural and educational backgrounds are quite different from those of American students. In many cases the papers cited were not published in peer-reviewed journals or were merely papers presented at meetings of specialists in science education. Keywords: Education—general; education—science; education—geoscience; education—testing and evaluation.
Full text (Acrobat (PDF) 81kB Feb28 06)
URL for this article: http://www.nagt.org/nagt/jge/abstracts/1998.html#v46p484