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

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 3:30 PM


LIBARKIN, Julie C., Geological Sciences, Ohio Univ, 316 Clippinger Labs, Athens, OH 45701 and ANDERSON, Steven W., 903 Pinedale Dr, Spearfish, SD 57783-1624, libarkin@ohio.edu

Significant research has demonstrated that students at all levels hold alternative conceptions, explanations of natural phenomena that are at odds with scientific ideas. These alternative conceptions are often resistant to change and can persist despite the best efforts of instructors. Students enrolled in Introduction to Physical Geology at Ohio University were exposed to a conceptual change instructional intervention centered on student drawings. Pre-instruction drawings were collected from all students, and post-drawings of the Earth's interior were included on the final exam and used as a comparative post-test. Drawings were analyzed using the drawing analysis methods described by Gobert (2000), wherein common characteristics of student models of the Earth's interior were identified and coded. From the 128 pre-instruction drawings and accompanying text analyzed, several dominant themes emerged and a scoring rubric was developed that allowed scores to be assigned for each theme. Post-instruction drawings were similarly analyzed. Pre-instruction drawings indicate that students are entering entry-level geology courses with pre-existing non-scientific models of the Earth's interior. Comparison of scores computed for pre- and post-instruction drawings indicates that students are adopting many aspects of the scientific models of the Earth's interior, although a significant number of students are still either mixing the composition and physical state models or do not understand the difference between the two models. Comparison of these drawings with drawings produced by advanced geology majors indicates that the majority of entry-level students are acquiring understanding comparable to that of the majors.