Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 3:50 PM


METLAY, Suzanne T., Front Range Community College, 2121 Miller Drive, Longmont, CO 80501,

Learner-Directed Learning builds confidence and capability in introductory geoscience students by moving from guided questions to self-discovery through progressive activities and laboratory assignments. When possible, participation should be hands-on and collaborative. However, in online classes or in subjects like astronomy where samples cannot be touched, the author has used successfully the following approach:

(1) Direct students to specific websites designed for education & outreach or for citizen science;

(2) Walk students through an activity early in the term, being careful to give very concrete examples and specific instructions;

(3) Guide students to teach themselves through reading text and watching videos;

(4) By the middle of the term, begin assignments with guided questions but end them with open quests where students must devise their own inquiries and explanations;

(5) Conclude the term with open-ended assignments where students are given minimal instructions and maximum opportunities to demonstrate competence.

Since many students prefer structure throughout the term, some fundamental aspects of course structure throughout the term remain constant – frequent lab work. quizzes, exams, and discrete written activities that earn consistent grades. Two term projects teach students different elements of geoscience education: (1) Teamwork, online research, and professional presentation skills, each according to strict rubrics; and (2) Independent investigation on a topic of the student’s choosing, with an emphasis on improving writing skills and interdisciplinary linkages among physical and social sciences.

Throughout the term:

(1) Modify your student’s mindset from “I can’t” to “I don’t know how”;

(2) Develop skills for basic capability;

(3) Identify essential materials and tools for student mastery, especially online;

(4) Consider methods/techniques, including new technologies and changing guidelines;

(5) Practice professional behavior and ethics;

(6) Have students present their own independent work to each other often, especially through peer instruction;

(7) Prepare the scaffold for a higher climb that transforms the student into an active lifelong learner.

  • Metlay_GSA-T73_4Nov12.ppt (2.9 MB)