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

Paper No. 23
Presentation Time: 6:30 PM-8:30 PM


RIGGS, Nancy R., Department of Geology, Northern Arizona Univ, Box 4099, Flagstaff, AZ 86011 and KELLY, Michael M., MMKAA Inc, 3354 N. Crest, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, nancy.riggs@nau.edu

GLG 240 at NAU is a required field methods course for Geology majors. Students describe sedimentary and igneous rocks, self locate on a topographic map, use a Brunton compass, and map simple geologic structures. Prerequisites are physical and historical geology. In Fall 2003, we implemented GeoWall 3D visualization technology in the first major field project of GLG 240 dealing with students' perception of terrain and geologic relations. The exercise centered on SP Crater, a young cinder cone and flow north of Flagstaff, AZ. The goals of the exercise were to increase 1) student confidence in self location, 2) recognition of how scale varies between different media (aerial photographs, topographic sheets), and 3) ability to follow and map contacts between Paleozoic bedrock, volcanic rocks, and alluvium. Assessment of student learning has remained steady over >5 years of teaching the class: rubrics were established early and are applied to a student report comprising maps and written analysis.

The GeoWall exercise occurred during a pre-field laboratory. Students map contacts and describe the geologic setting of SP Crater using black and white, stereo, 1:25000 aerial photographs and mylar overlays. The intervention added to this instruction by requiring the students to individually use a stereo 3D visualization of SP Crater rendered with the ROMA software in the GeoWall. The intervention included an assessment that required students to "fly" to various predetermined points of interest and describe the geologic setting at those points using well-defined rules. The lab exercise was followed by a field mapping day at SP Crater. The GeoWall was also available to students during the report-writing phase of the exercise in the following week.

Results of the intervention based on interviews between the lab and field exercises and a written summative assessment at the end of the project indicate a strong positive attitude toward the use of the GeoWall, and an expectation for access to 3D visualization technology both in education and career. Student comments included “a more realistic approach than the stereoscope” and “ability to map in 3D…greatly diminished my ability to get lost”, as well as “the problem…was that we had too many people at once”. With the lessons from F03, we will improve the presentation in the class during F04.