2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
Paper No. 67-7
Presentation Time: 3:05 PM-3:20 PM


JOLLEY, Alison1, JONES, Francis2, HARRIS, Sara3, and RHAJIAK, Jamil2, (1) Archaeology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S1 4ET, United Kingdom, (2) Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada, fjones@eos.ubc.ca, (3) Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada

There is growing interest within the geoscience education community both in the general application of concept tests to student learning, and in their applications to specific concepts such as geological time. We report on results of using a new instrument in second year and fourth year geoscience courses which assesses knowledge of landscapes, their formation timescales, and general knowledge about geological time. Students taking this two-part concept test (the Landscape Identification and Formation Test, or LIFT) first identify twelve landscapes, estimate corresponding timescales of formation and make judgments about their confidence in their answers. Then they answer eight questions on general knowledge about geological time. Validation of all questions involved interviews with experts to identify and refine questions and answer options, as well as several cycles of student “think-aloud” interviews.

Results show that abilities to identify landscapes and estimate corresponding formation timescales correlate positively with knowledge of geologic time but are not correlated with whether students are in second year or fourth year classes. Second, all students are better at landscape identification than estimation of corresponding formation timescales. Third, students estimate timescales for rapidly or slowly forming landscapes (e.g. an impact crater or mountain range) more reliably than landscapes with intermediate formation timescales. This result is consistent with the degree of agreement among experts’ estimates of timescales. Also, student knowledge of landscapes and confidence in that knowledge are positively correlated. These and other related results, including relations between scores and prior geosciences experience, or gender, represent a first step to illuminating student learning about landscapes, their formation timescales and general knowledge of geologic time. They also raise questions about expert agreement, about teaching and learning of timescales of landscape formation, and about choices of content and assessment in geoscience courses.

2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
General Information for this Meeting


Session No. 67
Time, Events, and Places: Understanding Temporal and Spatial Learning in Geoscience Education
Minneapolis Convention Center: Room 208CD
1:30 PM-5:30 PM, Sunday, 9 October 2011

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 43, No. 5, p. 183

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