• Harvey Thorleifson, Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • Carrie Jennings, Vice Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • David Bush, Technical Program Chair
    University of West Georgia
  • Jim Miller, Field Trip Chair
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Curtis M. Hudak, Sponsorship Chair
    Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC


Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 11:45 AM


DAVIS, John, Geological Sciences, University of Idaho, POB 443022, Moscow, ID 83844-3022 and BOHLSCHEID, Jeff, Food Science, University of Idaho, School of Food Science, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, Moscow, ID 83844,

The constructivist approach to education, particularly science education, with its hallmark focus on inquiry methodology, has enjoyed several decades of documented successes in K-12 school settings. Reviews of this vast body of literature reveal a clearly positive impact of inquiry upon student achievement. The research also supports the contention that inquiry instruction is viewed positively by both teachers and students. Of interest, over the past decade or two, faculty teaching in higher education, particularly in the technical fields, have begun to embrace inquiry methodologies. This is certainly true in Geoscience Education, as evidenced by the increasing body of research on the positive impact of inquiry instruction on student achievement in higher education. However, what is not clear is whether or not higher education students actually prefer any one or more instruction method over others, within the generic categories of expository, experiential, inquiry (inductive), and problem-based (deductive) methods. In short, if a student is not engaged, achievement will suffer.

With this concern in mind, the authors recently conducted a study at a 4-year Land Grant University to determine student perceptions of instructional models. A secure, online, 25-question survey (which also requested basic demographic information) was developed and implemented during the last 6 weeks of the Spring, 2011 semester. While the primary focus was on technical field students (geology and food science), an additional focus engaged and surveyed education students (prospective elementary and secondary teachers). The data was analyzed using ANOVA and Mann-Whitney) to determine (a) instructional preference within each of the four groups, (b) a comparison of preferences of each group to other fields, and (c) gender issues within and across groups. The results suggest that there is perceived value of particular instructional methods over others, both within and across groups. In addition, a gender relationship with methodology exists, particularly within certain subjects. Value, concerns, limitations, and future studies shall be briefly addressed.

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