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

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM


MATCHEN, David L., West Virginia Geol and Economic Survey, P.O. Box 879, Morgantown, WV 26507-0879, HEMLER, Deb, Science and Mathematics, Fairmont State College, 1201 Locust Ave, Fairmont, WV, WV 26554 and REPINE, Thomas E., Jr, WV Geol & Economics Survey, PO Box 879, Morgantown, WV 26507-0879, dhemler@mail.fscwv.edu

Eight graduates of the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey's decade-old RockCamp K-12 Professional Development Program were selected to engage in a 14-day residency field experience. Under the supervision of geologists from the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey, a situated learning experience was developed to model the typical summer field camps attended by undergraduate geology majors. The goal was to have the participants develop a deep appreciation for how geologic field work is accomplished, understand how the accumulated data is assessed and used, and engage in the scientific processes required to construct a meaningful geologic map. Working on selected exposures within the Valley and Ridge Province of West Virginia, teachers were asked to describe sections, measure strike and dips, make interpretations, plot data, and construct individual geologic maps and cross sections.

The rationale for the program was based on the observation that typical undergraduate college preparation for the teaching of earth science does not typically entail more than a survey of geologic principles. More significantly, it is short on the "methodology" of geologic research. As a result, both pre- and in-service K-12 teachers are "told" how to read a geologic map. With no attempt to make a map, their appreciation of the geologic scientific processes represents a potentially serious classroom deficiency. This deficiency manifests itself when, as the National Science Education Standards (National Research Council, 1996) mandates, they extend themselves to present science in a more inquiry-based constructivist mode.

Pre- and post-testing instruments, group interviews, and individual journaling were developed and administered by Fairmont State College's science education professor. Preliminary analysis of evaluation data suggests participants enhanced their awareness of techniques needed to construct geologic maps. Additionally, relative to the transference of their experience to their students, the data suggests: 1. heightened interest in teaching geologic processes, 2. revised interest in the nature of scientific research, 3. realistic attitudes toward science in general, and 4. greater appreciation of the role inquiry plays in "doing real science."