Northeastern Section (45th Annual) and Southeastern Section (59th Annual) Joint Meeting (13-16 March 2010)

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:05 PM


RYAN, Jeffrey, Department of Geology, SCA-528, Univ of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave, SCA 528, Tampa, FL 33620,

A key juncture in the education of geoscience undergraduates is the transition from directed learner to independent investigator. While geology programs do offer experiences to help students develop research skills (i.e., field mapping and "new wave" field courses on hydrology, volcanology, etc.), these are often constrained by resource limitations, and often don't include the kinds of data collection experiences that students will encounter professionally.

This NSF-CCLI project seeks to incorporate "real" research experiences in introductory and upper-level geology courses, making use of remotely operable electron microprobe (EMP) and scanning electron microsocope (SEM) instrumentats to support real-time student data collection and analysis as part of course-related research projects. The instrumentation (housed at the Florida Center for Analytical Electron Microscopy in Miami, FL) can be accessed from any computer via UNIX terminal emulator software. I have built student use of EMP and/or SEM for data collection into a Mineralogy/Petrology (GLY 3311C) and Introduction to Natural Sciences (IDH 3350) course at the University of South Florida. We are measuring gains in student learning, as well as changes in student course choices and post-graduation trajectories as a result of this experience.

Students in each class complete a term project, making use of EMP/SEM as well as necessary supporting work with petrographic microscopy, to investigate the origins of a suite of rocks (one that in the case of the GLY 3311C course was collected by students during an extended course field trip). Student have the opportunity to continue this work by requesting entry into a focused lab offering (GLY 4947L) in which they can pursue independent research, and they can choose to carry their research to completion for presentation at a sectional GSA meeting. In two years of this three-year project, 8 students (2 in Year 1, 6 in year 2; ntotal=40) have asked to take my GLY 4947L course, and of these 5 have taken research projects to professional meetings (including this meeting). Two have gone onto graduate studies in geology. Measures of student interest indicate the hands-on experiences are both empowering and appreciated, and measures of student learning indicate greater retention of mineralogy/petrology content in particular.