Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 9:15 AM

GEOSTRATIONS: A GEOLOGIC STRUCTURES GAME FOR INTRODUCTORY GEOLOGY STUDENTS

PARKHURST, Samantha M., WRIGHT, Carrie and FERNANDEZ, Giselle C., Department of Geology and Physics, University of Southern Indiana, Evansville, IN 47712, smparkhurs@eagles.usi.edu

Structural geology is one of the most difficult topics for introductory geology students because it requires greater spatial reasoning ability to mentally manipulate and understand the structures. In the United States, formal training of spatial reasoning skills is usually not included in the curriculum in K-12 classrooms and generally requires students to acquire this ability in their own time (Ben-Chaim et al, 1998). Geostrations is a game designed to remedy both of these problems in introductory geology classrooms. Geostrations is based on the game Telestrations but instead uses geologic structures and processes as the main focus of the game. This game was administered to three introductory geology classes over the course of the 2012-2013 school year. Most students played two rounds of the game during one lecture period for the geology courses. Rubrics were designed to score the drawings and labels students wrote on paper pads during the game. Student performance in the game was analyzed based on averages of blind scores. The drawings and labels were divided into topical categories including folds, faults, stress and deformation, unconformities, and general geology. One-way ANOVA results indicated a statistically significant difference between student ability to label drawings in different categories (F(4,68)=3.523, p=0.011) in a physical geology class, and the ability to draw an accurate representation of a word (F(4,97)=3.512, p=0.011) in a historical geology class. The historical class also performed better (t=2.118, p=0.037) on drawings compared to labels. No statistically significant gender difference in performance was found. Students in all three classes usually performed the best on the drawings and labels in the fold category. Fold types are more easily recognizable because of analogies used to teach them, perhaps explaining the higher scores on drawings and labels related to this category of geologic structures. Drawing correct representations is a higher cognitive skill than labeling, and requires more spatial reasoning. In geology, visualization and sketching abilities are just as important as being able to correctly label structures. The Geostrations game allows students to practice and hone these skills in a more engaging manner beyond the typical structural geology labs.