January 2010 Journal of Geoscience Education

Volume 58, Number 1

Editorial: What role do geoscientists play in society?
Julie C. Libarkin, Joe T. Elkins, Karen McNeal, Kristen St. John
JGE, v. 58, n. 1, p. 1-1
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Commentary: Analogical Thinking in Geoscience Education
Benjamin D. Jee, David H. Uttal, Dedre Gentner, Cathy Manduca, Thomas F. Shipley, Basil Tikoff, Carol J. Ormand, Bradley Sageman
JGE, v. 58, n. 1, p. 2-13

Geoscience instructors and textbooks rely on analogy for teaching students a wide range of content, from the most basic concepts to highly complicated systems. The goal of this paper is to connect educational and cognitive science research on analogical thinking with issues of geoscience instruction. Analogies convey that the same basic relationships hold in two different examples. In cognitive science, analogical comparison is understood as the process by which a person processes an analogy. We use a cognitive framework for analogy to discuss what makes an effective analogy, the various forms of analogical comparison used in instruction, and the ways that analogical thinking can be supported. Challenges and limitations in using analogy are also discussed, along with suggestions about how these limitations can be addressed to better guide instruction. We end with recommendations about the use of analogy for instruction, and for future research on analogy as it relates to geoscience learning.

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A Values Framework for Students to Develop Thoughtful Attitudes about Citizenship and Stewardship
Tim Lutz, LeeAnn Srogi
JGE, v. 58, n. 1, p. 14-20

Geoscience teaching has primarily been oriented toward the value of science to explain natural systems. However, many kinds of values guide people's responses to environmental problems, which originate when human expectations fail to match the behavior of natural systems. Examples from the literature show that practical environmental decision-making recognizes, and is formed on the basis of, diverse values. We propose a ‗values of nature' framework based on Stephen Kellert's (1996) values of life to provide a set of concepts and a terminology that engages students to recognize the values they bring to environmental issues. We show from our experiences in two different introductory courses that students using the values framework can develop thoughtful attitudes about the environment and can appreciate the views of those with different values.

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Six Syllabi from the Early Years of American Geological Education, 1817 - 1838
Richard G. Stearns, James X. Corgan
JGE, v. 58, n. 1, p. 21-31

Between 1817 and 1838 professors at the University of Pennsylvania, South Carolina College, Yale College, and Columbia College published six syllabi for earth science courses. All stressed geology. These syllabi give unique insight into classrooms of almost 200 years ago. The greatest difference between the six syllabi involved historical geology. Some pioneer professors viewed observation as the only basis for interpreting geological history. Others viewed Biblical revelation as the dominant, or at least an important, guide to deciphering the history of Planet Earth. Eventually differing approaches to historical interpretation led to a well-documented religion-geology confrontation. It culminated in a much-publicized attempt to impeach a college president who taught an observation-based geology course. After 1832, the year of this failed impeachment, known syllabi continued to emphasize observation. By 1834 the once exonerated college president and his entire faculty were fired. By 1840 research in the Alps showed that widely distributed high altitude earth-surface sediments of mixed clastic character, generally called the Drift, are of glacial origin. This observation-based view was gradually accepted by much of the scientific community. Before 1840 some earth science teachers saw all occurrences of the Drift as clear proof that the Flood of Noah covered the entire planet, including the highest mountains. The Drift and the Noachian Flood were major themes in some science classrooms. Today, the Drift is less controversial. Evolution is the new battleground but the conflict is the same. It is an impasse between the interpretation of Biblical revelation and the interpretation of observation.

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Increasing Diversity in the Geosciences: Recruitment Programs and Student Self-Efficacy
Lorenzo D. Baber, Meghan J. Pifer, Carol Colbeck, Tanya Furman
JGE, v. 58, n. 1, p. 32-42

Using a conceptual framework constructed around self-efficacy, this study explores specific recruitment programs that may contribute to the development of self-efficacy for students of color in the geosciences. This mixed methods study of geoscience education includes quantitative analysis of the Summer Experience in Earth and Mineral Science Program and qualitative analysis of the Summer Research Opportunity Program. Findings identify programmatic components that fostered self-efficacy, thus contributing to students‟ continued interest in careers in geoscience. This study has potential implications for higher education institutions interested in cultivating programs that attract, support, and retain students of color through various stages of the geoscience education pipeline.

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Assessing the Impact of Geoscience Laboratories on Student Learning: Who Benefits from Introductory Labs?
Karl G. Nelson, Kristin Huysken, Zoran Kilibarda
JGE, v. 58, n. 1, p. 43-50

Laboratories serve as an integral part of geoscience education at most colleges and universities. While anecdotal evidence supports the beneficial impact of laboratories on science class learning, little quantitative research backs this statement. This study compared classroom data from students who completed a geoscience laboratory in conjunction with an introductory-level lecture-based course to those who completed the lecture course only. Laboratory-enrolled students performed better in the lecture class, resulting in an increase of 5.5% in their final class score. Even after controlling for GPA, laboratory enrollment accounted for a statistically significant proportion of the variance. Nontraditional students (age 25 and over) primarily benefited from the laboratory. Nontraditional students enrolled in lab performed 21.1% higher overall than their lecture course only nontraditional counterparts, and 4.9% higher overall than traditional students who enrolled in both the laboratory and lecture courses. Geoscience laboratories play a significant role in student learning and appear particularly important for nontraditional students.

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