Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 3:15 PM
USE OF VISUAL IMAGES FROM U.S. NATIONAL PARKS IN UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION
Teaching geology at the introductory level relies heavily on visual aids to help explain and reinforce often-complex geologic concepts to mostly undergraduate non-science majors taking geology classes for partial fulfillment of liberal education science requirements. Within our national parks, examples abound of interesting geologic features of great scenic and scientific quality. Using photographic images from the national parks, I have developed a unique set of visual material in digital form to enhance the effectiveness of the classroom experience and improve student attentiveness and interaction. This project took advantage of continuing advances in multimedia technology to produce digital images from film transparencies that were then annotated using commercial software packages to show major geologic features relevant to the pictures. These visual instructional materials are designed to greatly help students develop scientific observational skills and to improve their ability to understand natural geologic processes. By displaying a landscape image without any annotation, students are engaged in discussions of what they observe in the picture based on their knowledge of geologic processes that they have just learned through class lectures or reading assignments. By then presenting the same image annotated with geologic features, the students are able to see what a geologist observes in the picture as compared to their own observations. These visual aids were developed to enhance and promote both teaching and learning excellence in the upper-division introductory science course entitled "Geology of the National Parks of North America". Annotated images allow students to visualize how geology played a major role in the creation of the landscapes that are now preserved in the national parks. However, many of these annotated park images benefit students taking other introductory geology courses and reinforce important basic concepts of physical and historical geology. Incorporating images from the national parks also greatly enhances public awareness of science and geology as well as making their visits to the parks more memorable.