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

Paper No. 24
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


ANDERSON, K.1, KELTY, T.2, RYLAND, T.1, BRENNER, J.1 and PERRY, B.1, (1)Department of Geological Sciences, California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840, (2)Department of Geological Sciences & Department of Science Education, California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840, kgeologylab@aol.com

The effectiveness of student peer or studio instruction of general geology laboratories were evaluated by the use of identical beginning-of-semester (“pre-test”) and end-of-semester (“post-test”) questions. Student peer instruction was performed by the use of poster boards and presentations by student teams. Student-generated posters transferred responsibility of the (prior week key-concept) review via student-to-student presentations. Five to six teams, not assigned by the instructor, consisted of four to six students. Two weekday, in-the-classroom labs were evaluated for this study. The goal of this peer teaching experiment was to promote team cooperation, and encourage students to take responsibility for their learning. Group dynamics and peer pressure appear to have helped create student ownership of the material.

Results of identical pre-test and post-test questions were that “visual” majors scored higher than “non-visual” majors. For example, students declaring a major in art had the highest post-test scores, and the greatest percentage increase between pre-test and post-test. The visual nature of geology, or peer instruction technique may be a best-fit; it may also be possible that cooperative learning is common in the Art Department. “Non-visual” majors such as English and business administration did not show as much improvement. An important result of the study showed undeclared majors had the second highest percent improvement when pre-test and post-test scores were measured. Are some of these undeclared students potential geology majors? Identical pre-test and post-test questions were also given to students in a weekend field-based lab. In comparison with field-based geology labs, another highly visual teaching method, there was no significant difference from in-the-classroom studio/peer instructed labs.