USING STUDENT ASSESSMENT IN AN INTRODUCTORY GEOLOGY LABORATORY COURSE TO DRIVE CURRICULAR CHANGE
It has long been known that acquisition and comprehension of scientific concepts corresponds to the ability of an individual to use logical operations (e.g. Raven, 1974). In other words concepts matched to the developmental level of students are more easily learned. In order to determine the developmental levels of our students, the Group Assessment of Logical Thinking (GALT) instrument has been administered to all students taking the beginning geology laboratory course in the general education sequence. The total number of students that have taken the assessment to date is approximately 800.
The twenty-one question GALT instrument measures six logical operations: conservation, proportional reasoning, controlling variables, combinational reasoning, probabilistic reasoning, and co-relational reasoning. The assessment also has sufficient reliability and validity to distinguish between groups of students placed in one of three science learning classifications; concrete, transitional, or abstract. The GALT results to date indicate that approximately 31% of undergraduate students taking the beginning geology general education course are concrete learners in science, 50% are transitional and 19% are abstract thinkers in science. The GALT data will be an important factor in the modification of learning activities and materials used in the course curriculum. GALT results will also be used to recruit abstract thinkers to become majors, provide assistance to concrete learners and drive change in curriculum for all general education laboratory courses.