2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 6:00 PM-8:00 PM


NUHFER, Edward, Geosciences and Center for Teaching and Learning, Idaho State University, Campus Box 8010, Pocatello, ID 83201, nuhfed@isu.edu

Science involves study of the physical world: matter, energy, and time. A primary contribution to science by geologists involves the understanding of change through time. Yet, introductory textbooks and traditional instruction impart factual knowledge (age of Earth and presentation of the Geologic Time Scale) rather than promote conceptual understanding. Introductory students arrive with limited, self-made common-sense interpretations about change through time, and most are dead wrong. Ability of students to comprehend the planet, their environment, and their place and role in these in ways that are useful to their own lives requires more than recognizing that Earth is old; it requires students to develop sophisticated, conceptualized thinking about time. The study of the discovery of deep time is a marvelous topic to allow students to comprehend science as a way of understanding the physical world through two major methods: repeated experimentation and historical/multiple working hypotheses. Texts and instructors should work to convey deeper conceptual understanding of change through time—not as merely age and ordered events— but also as patterns, rates, magnitudes, durations and frequencies. Questions of great importance include the following. (1) How do we understand change through time? (2) What are the patterns, rates, magnitudes, durations and frequencies of a given process? (3) What variations are reasonably expected? (4) How do the changes we see now compare to those we deduce from the past? (5) How do changes caused by human activity compare with natural changes that would occur without such activity, and what are the consequences of such change? This poster will show methods and exercises for promoting such conceptual learning.