Southeastern Section - 57th Annual Meeting (10–11 April 2008)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:50 AM


DRIPPS, Weston R., Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Furman University, 3300 Poinsett Highway, Greenville, SC 29613,

As the world's environmental systems become increasingly stressed, the need for better scientific literacy and understanding of these often complex earth science issues by students is becoming increasingly important. Unfortunately for many students, particularly non-science majors, personal perceptions and knowledge about earth science issues are influenced by or sometimes limited to the entertainment industry's often inaccurate or biased portrayal of these topics in mainstream film and television. The result is often a confused or misinformed student that has difficulty separating fact from fiction with regards to many contemporary science and environmental issues.

I-Clickers are an electronic, in-class student response system in which instructors can pose concept questions to students and receive instant feedback and assessment. I-Clickers have become increasingly widespread in their use in the classroom and are particularly useful in providing a quick, informal assessment as to the level of understanding on particular subject matters. Lectures and discussions can then be focused on areas of incomplete understanding, and less time is wasted on areas of universal comprehension. I-Clickers are an excellent means to foster discussion, particularly in big introductory courses, and serve to make all students an active class participant.

In this study I-Clickers were used not only to provide quick feedback for the instructor for various concept questions posed in the classroom for a general education introductory earth science course, but perhaps more interestingly also as a pedagogical tool in identifying student perceptions, misconceptions, and biases in response to the entertainment and mass media's portrayal of earth science topics. Students were routinely asked a series of concept questions, shown a Hollywood blockbuster film or media clip that related to the content covered in the questions, and then re-asked the same questions to track how their opinions changed or were seemingly influenced by the film or clip's portrayal of the subject matter. A comparative analysis of the pre and post questioning showed how readily student opinions and perceptions were influenced, often incorrectly, and served as a springboard for discussing the true science and facts behind various earth science topics in class.