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

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 2:15 PM


VAN DER PLUIJM, Ben A., Department of Geological Sciences, Univ of Michigan, 425 E University Ave, 2534 C.C. Little Building, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1063, SAMSON, Perry J., Atmospheric, Oceanic & Space Sciences, Univ of Michigan, 1539 Space Research Building, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2143 and KNOOP, Peter, Dept. of Geological Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, samson@umich.edu

Teaching methods in introductory, undergraduate courses traditionally rely on static textbooks and/or course packs, with presentation delivered as a monologue (albeit impassioned) in front of a mostly passive, large audience. Add to this the advent of course websites with lecture notes and PowerPoint presentations and the students are left with little incentive to attend, much less participate. Clearly this model does not provide much opportunity or motivation for students to learn and critically think through the arguments being developed. In many introductory science courses the concepts presented are often best illustrated using visualizations and/or demonstrations. But even the most stunning of images or spectacular exhibits, while motivating, offer the students only passive participation in the learning process. What is needed is a coupling of the rich imagery of many fields, advances in technology and in learning, with the goal of revitalizing pedagogical approaches in survey-level courses and student-instructor interaction. The GeoPocket educational project couples the use of peer instruction techniques in large classes (as originally described by Mazur, 1997) with the use of interactive spatial concept challenges utilizing wireless Pocket PCs (handhelds). The technologies employed (web, PocketPC, wireless network) are off-the-shelf technologies and the Peer Instruction technique is increasingly documented in undergraduate science classes. However, the combination is not employed due to its initial cost, wrongly perceived level of effort to implement, availability of engaging activities and modest volume of data on student learning. We'll show our development and implementation efforts of this IT-enhanced classroom experience, involving interactive image quizzes and data manipulation in large introductory classes at the University of Michigan.