2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 9:35 AM


LINARI, David J., HUNTOON, Jacqueline E. and BLUTH, Gregg J.S., Geological Engineering and Sciences, Michigan Technological Univ, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931, djlinari@mtu.edu

A computer-based module was developed in this study for use as a supplement to traditional laboratory activities in introductory geology courses. The module is the first of a planned 12-module series that will focus on the geology of southeastern Utah's National Parks and Monuments. In this first module, students are introduced to the processes of mineral identification, grain size determination, paleocurrent analysis, the use of isopach maps, and paleogeographic reconstruction. Unlike traditional courses, in which these subjects are taught independently, the computer-based module encourages students to integrate materials and use the scientific method as they work to solve the problem: "Where did some of the oldest rocks exposed in eastern Utah's National Parks and Monuments come from?" The module's problem-solving approach helps students to understand how basic concepts and methods are applied in geology. The module uses a combination of interactive animations, virtual-reality simulations, video, and high-resolution photographs to guide students through the process of developing a hypothesis in response to the module's initial question. The module is intended to improve content-area competency and build problem-solving skills by focusing on the process of generating a testable hypothesis. Prior to development of the computer-based module, practicing K-12 teachers and undergraduate students tested the module's content in the field. Subsequent formative assessment was performed through administration of pre- and post-module surveys in the computer lab. These surveys measure changes in attitudes and lower and higher-order thinking skills of participants who use the computer-based module. Video of students interacting with the software was also used to qualitatively assess the effectiveness of the module. The results of the assessments are being used to refine the module and guide development of additional modules in the series.