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

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:05 PM


STAPLETON, Colleen P., Mathematics, Science, and Informatics, CCPS, Mercer University, 3001 Mercer University Dr, Atlanta, GA 30341 and ROBERTSON, Sandra J., Mathematics, Science, and Information Systems, Mercer University, College of Continuing and Professional Studies, 1400 Coleman Avenue, Macon, GA 31207-0001,

The goals of the project described here are to demonstrate the value of inquiry-based activities, mainly scientific lab and field work, in:

  1. developing scientific knowledge in adult learners;
  2. initiating and increasing student motivation to study science;
  3. 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.