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

Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


FUHRMAN, Miriam, Assessment Division, American Institutes for Research, 908 Piovana Court, Carlsbad, CA 92011, SROGI, LeeAnn, Department of Geology/Astronomy, West Chester Univ, 720 S Church St, West Chester, PA 19383-0001, KRAFT, Katrien J., Physical Sciences, Mesa Community College, 1833 W. Southern Ave, Mesa, AZ 85202, LINNEMAN, Scott, Geology Department and Science Education Group, Western Washington University, 516 High Street, Bellingham, WA 98225-9080, YOSHINOBU, Aaron S., Dept. of Geosciences, Texas Tech Univ, Lubbock, TX 79409-1053 and ZALLES, Daniel, SRI International, 333 Ravenswood Ave, Menlo Park, CA 94025, mfuhrman@air.org

In May 2005, the NAGT On the Cutting Edge program [http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/assess/index.html] convened a workshop entitled “Understanding What Our Geoscience Students Are Learning: Observing and Assessing”. At this workshop, a group representing a cross-section of the geoscience education community drafted a geoscience strand map based on the strand maps in the Atlas of Scientific Literacy (AAAS, 2001) designed for K-12. The initial purpose of this strand map is to articulate an understanding within the geoscience community as to what common knowledge and skills are important for students to master by the end of a program (for majors) or an introductory geoscience course (for non-majors). Another purpose for the map is to provide guidance for departments who are developing or designing curricula and courses. The workshop attendees agreed that in order to develop useful community tools for assessment it is necessary to have some common understanding as to what is important for students to know and be able to do, and therefore what is important to assess.

The group first based the strand map on learning objectives and skills that they and their institutions felt were necessary for students to have mastered at the end of an introductory geoscience course. These were then reorganized and refined into the current strand map, which we call the Geoscience Concept Crystal (GCC). The organizing themes of the GCC are: People and Geoscience, the Nature of Geoscience, Geoscience Systems, and Deep Time. The Nature of Geoscience, Geoscience Systems, and Deep Time occur at the same plane (level) in the concept crystal that represents the “philosophy” of geoscience, the guiding principles by which geoscientists operate. The next level down in the concept crystal is where most of a typical syllabus and curriculum lie. This level includes the subthemes: Geoscience Inquiry, Geoscience Processes, and Geoscience Phenomena.

We envision at least two important applications of the Geoscience Concept Crystal: 1. as a guide for curriculum and course development; and 2. the development and evaluation of assessments aligned with the map and therefore the most important knowledge and skills in geoscience. We will present examples of both applications.