2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 9:05 AM

Novelty Space as a Factor in Field-Based Geoscience Education for Native American Students

RIGGS, Eric M.1, HERRERA, Juan S.1, DARNER, Rebekka2 and ELKINS, Joe T.3, (1)Dept. of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and CRESME, Purdue University, 550 Stadium Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (2)Biological Sciences Program, University of Florida, 313 Bartram, Gainsville, FL 32611, (3)Department of Earth Sciences, University of Northern Colorado, Box 100, Greeley, CO 80639, emriggs@purdue.edu

Field-based education presents clear advantages for studying the geosciences, but this environment presents unique difficulties related to the novelty of this instructional setting, especially for beginning students. Orion and colleagues recognized this formally in the early 1990s and developed measures of Novelty Space, the barriers to learning presented by combined psychological, cognitive, geographic and social factors. By lowering these aspects of novelty, learning in the field improves. This has recently been extended to field-based education in the GeoJourney program by Elkins and colleagues, who developed a new, validated instrument for measuring four-component Novelty Space. Since 2000 we have been conducting field-based geoscience programs for Native American youth in the Young Native Scholars (YNS) programs. Observations of student learning in these programs and in other adult-level programs led to the hypothesis based in indigenous science education literature that Native people should not experience as high levels of geographic and psychological novelty as the majority population. This is because of connections to landscapes and nature based in indigenous knowledge and culture which reduce novelty. To test this, we deployed the same Novelty Space instrument in a four-day field program with a group of 8 high-school age Native youth far from home reservations. We found that compared with averaged GeoJourney 2006 results, YNS students had lower initial geographic novelty than students at the end of GeoJourney, and showed a decrease during the program to even lower levels. The psychological novelty showed the same pattern, with all YNS measures being lower than any GeoJourney results. Social and cognitive novelty also showed decreases, but scores were comparable with GeoJourney students. This data is preliminary, and will be augmented by larger data sets gathered at three summer YNS programs and by ongoing analysis of qualitative data from interviews and student field notes.