IMPLEMENTING INCLUSIVE DESIGN FOR LEARNING IN AN INTRODUCTORY GEOLOGY LABORATORY
Traditional geology laboratories rely heavily on visual aids, either physical (rocks and minerals) or representative (idealized cartoons of processes, videos), with very few alternative representations and descriptions made available to the students. Our main focus for this new lab was to diversify the means of representation available to the students (and instructor) to make the lab as equitable and flexible as possible. We considered potential barriers to learning arising from the physical lab environment, from the means of representation, engagement and expression, and tried to minimize them upfront.
We centred the laboratory on the link between volcano shape and viscosity as an applied way to convey that viscosity is the resistance to flow. The learning goal was to have the students observe that more viscous eruptives resulted in steeper-sided volcanoes through experimentation. Students built their own volcanoes by erupting lava (foods of various viscosities) onto the Earth’s surface (a piece of sturdy cardboard with a hole for the “vent”) through a conduit (pastry bag). Such a hands on lab exercise allows students to gain a tactile and visual, i.e., physical representation of an abstract concept. This specific exercise was supported by other, more traditional, means of representation (e.g., lecture, videos, cartoons, 3D models, online resources, textbook) in lecture and lab.
We will discuss the details of the design, the implementation experience, and the insights for lab improvement in future iterations. This exercise represents the initial steps toward (re)designing introductory geoscience labs to more effectively include diverse learners.