MOTIVATION, KNOWLEDGE, AND RETENTION IN INTRODUCTORY GEOSCIENCE COURSES
The goals of the project described here are to demonstrate the value of inquiry-based activities, mainly scientific lab and field work, in:
- developing scientific knowledge in adult learners;
- initiating and increasing student motivation to study science;
- increasing student retention in science courses.
Students' feelings towards science have been measured in two courses where lab and/or field work form a portion of the learning activities. Changes in student feelings are compared to knowledge gained during the course session. It is hypothesized that there will be a strong positive correlation between increase in motivation and gain in content knowledge. It is also hypothesized that higher course retention rates will occur in course sections where there are a greater number of lab- and field-based activities.
Science motivation surveys have been administered in 3 introductory geoscience course sections and in 11 introductory science course sections offered in Fall 2009. Geoscience concept inventories have been administered in all 3 sections of introductory geoscience sections. About 160 students have participated to date.
Preliminary results collected indicate that around 20% of students entering college are rarely to sometimes positively motivated towards science. For students entering the introductory geoscience course, which fulfills general education requirements for many students, only about 5% of students have low motivation towards science, suggesting that the introductory helps to transform students' motivations towards science. Results of pre-course and post-course geoscience concept inventory scores for the introductory geoscience sections will also be presented and compared to any changes in motivation.