2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 18
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


WUNDERLE, Marcus1, LIBARKIN, Julie C.1 and RUDDERS, Erin Cunningham2, (1)Geological Sciences, Ohio Univ, 316 Clippinger Labs, Athens, OH 45701, (2)Water Resources Program, Spokane Community College, N. 1810 Greene St., MS 2080, Spokane, WA 99207, mw111899@ohiou.edu

Eleven students enrolled in a two year water resources program and two faculty members from a northwestern community college participated in a study to identify Earth-related alternative conceptions held by community college students. Most of the interviewed students had been working for ten to twenty years and were enrolled in community college for additional education. Students who participated in this study also possessed diverse educational experiences ranging from earning a GED to earning a Bachelor’s degree. Of the eleven students who were interviewed, a total of sixteen post-secondary geology courses were completed; four students completed no post-secondary coursework in geology. The two participating faculty members held M.S. degrees in geology or a related science. Each student and faculty member completed a short, open-ended questionnaire dealing with gravity, magnetism, and the Earth (in June 2003). Questionnaires and a semi-structured interview protocol were used as guides for a one hour interview with each participant. Common alternative conceptions revealed by this study are included below. Similar ideas are held by students interviewed at four-year institutions.

Common Earth-Related Alternative Conceptions

When asked what causes gravity: 1) It has something to do with uh, the atmosphere and, and uh, well I think magnetic fields and just holds everything down; 2) It has something to do with the way the Earth spins and magnetism creating the suction towards the Earth

When asked what would happen if the Earth did not have a magnetic field: 1) I think it’d be just uh, a ball. A gaseous ball I think; you would just drift off into space or what but I think you probably would; 2) If it disappeared, in theory is seems like everything would just fly off into space.