Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:15 PM


KORTZ, Karen M.1, EVANS, Nadine2, PODMASKA, Nicholas3 and TEVYAW, Allen3, (1)Physics Department, Community College of Rhode Island, 1762 Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI 02865, (2)Department of Geosciences, University of Rhode Island, 9 East Alumni Avenue, Woodward Hall, Kingston, RI 02881, (3)Department of Geosciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881,

This presentation describes a semester-long research experience for introductory-level students. The goal of the research project was for students to complete a full scientific study, including asking a scientific question; doing background research; developing methods; collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data; drawing conclusions; and communicating results via a scientific research paper. To narrow down the range of possible questions, the prompt given to the students was to research what people thought about a geologic topic of their choosing. This level of geoscience education research is approachable by introductory level students, and students can tailor it to address a topic of personal interest. For example, a question of one of my students was “What are preschool teachers’ ideas on how horses evolved?”.

The projects were student-directed within a structured framework with frequent deadlines. At the beginning, students were given detailed written explanations and expectations, such as options for data collection and a detailed layout of what to include in each section of the scientific paper. The students needed this support because they had never done the full spectrum of scientific research or written a scientific paper. Also the guidelines helped students recognize from the beginning the effort needed to complete the project. These detailed directions helped students target their effort in the research and be more productive in their writing because they knew the expectations. Also essential was frequent deadlines which kept us all on time.

Working with students on their research projects took a lot of time on my part, although it was a rewarding experience for the students and me. The three students who participated in this optional honors project did so because they had an interest in majoring in geology. They all felt it was a valuable experience, helping them appreciate the nature of science, developing skills, building confidence, and preparing them for future, upper-level science courses. They also appreciated the structure of the project and frequent deadlines, even with the considerable time commitment. This project was done as a 0.5 credit honors project, but it could be easily adapted to be a project within an existing course or as a stand-alone course.