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. 12
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-6:00 PM

Optimization of, and Measuring Student Gains in, An Introductory Geoscience Lab Course

GILLEY, Brett Hollis and HARRIS, Sara, Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada, bgilley@eos.ubc.ca

The Earth and Ocean Sciences Department (EOS) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) is optimizing, redesigning, and assessing courses as part of the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI). The introductory Geoscience lab (EOSC 111: A Laboratory Exploration of Planet Earth) was one of the first courses to begin optimization under CWSEI. This unique course draws together many aspects of Earth and Ocean Sciences and serves as the common lab course for four quite different first year courses, available to students from any faculty.

We will outline particular steps in the optimization process of this course:

• The development and use of explicit lecture and lab level learning goals, to make what is required and what is assessed transparent to the students.

• A variety of techniques and pedagogy used in this course including: individual and group quizzes, invention exercises, use of the geologic museum (the Pacific Museum of the Earth), rotating Teaching Assistants with different expertise, and explicit use of the Scientific Method

• Evaluation of student learning gains through the use of pre- and post-lab assessments directly related to learning goals. These assessments are administered on the first day of class and after the completion of each lab. Preliminary analyses of these assessments are presented.

Results of the first full semester of assessment show some variety within the course. Variation in learning gains can be ascribed to many causes such as: lab activity quality, student prior knowledge, specificity of learning goals, and assessment question quality. Data related to these and other causes will be discussed.