GEOLOGY AND EVERYDAY THINKING: A METACOGNITIVE LEARNING EXPERIENCE DESIGNED TO INSPIRE FUTURE ELEMENTARY TEACHERS TO TEACH EARTH SCIENCE
Trained instructors function as facilitators and questioners who stimulate students to continuously appraise their thinking. An important learning event in the course is an inquiry-oriented field trip. This all day experience includes students from each institution and ties together concepts about rock formation, stratigraphy, relative age dating and plate tectonics.
Small class sizes and pre/post assessment for 5 years have allowed us to document remarkable student gains in conceptual understanding about complex Earth processes and also changes in student attitudes toward learning science. For example, based on learning progression research we recognized that meaningful understanding of the earth science concepts isostasy, convection and plate dynamics requires solid understanding of density. Pre/posttest scores on conceptual questions re: density rose from 32 to 80%; isostasy from 19 to 90%; plate dynamics from 42 to 84%. These findings have implications for any introductory class where such complex topics are addressed.
We have taught the 10-week version of the course (6 hrs/wk) more than 30 times and have recently added two cycles to the curriculum to accommodate 15-week schedules. Extensive instructor resources will be available via our public wikispace site. We invite partners to deliver this curriculum, provide feedback and engage in assessment of its performance.