Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 9:05 AM


ROBERTS, Tiffany M., Department of Geology & Geophysics, Louisiana State University, E235 Howe-Russell Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803 and STEELE, Adrienne, College of Science, Louisiana State University, 336 Hatcher Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803,

In the last decade, studies focusing on the efficacy of active learning (as opposed to passive learning) have emphasized the importance of student engagement and development of critical thinking skills. Although many studies focus on a lecture setting, the same pedagogy can be applied to restructuring and redesigning laboratory courses. A traditional lab exercise may involve hands-on activities, but often the learning goals center on lower-order Blooms taxonomy outcomes such as knowledge and comprehension. In addition, labs often lack the technology for efficient instruction and demonstration of certain lab exercise methodologies.

As part of a growing national incentive to engage students in thinking and behaving like scientists (higher-order learning outcomes), we introduced a technology called Scope-On-A-Rope (SOAR) in several general education geology labs at Louisiana State University, including Physical and Historical Geology. SOAR is a hand-held microscope that can magnify from 1-200 times and connects to a projector for classroom instruction and demonstrations. Thus, rather than requiring the instructor to go table-to-table for student guidance, the methodology and information is demonstrated inclusively. The benefits of the hand-held microscope over a traditional countertop microscope include its simplicity, portability and ease of classroom demonstrations and group exercises.

An example of implementation of SOAR in a general education geology lab is during the introduction to grain-size classification of clastic sedimentary rocks using the traditional Udden-Wentworth classification scheme. In this example exercise, a poorly sorted sediment sample with fine sand to gravel-sized particles is projected using the SOAR. After the pre-lab preparation/instruction, all parties in the lab have been exposed to the same material through the in-class demonstration of basic facts (lower-level Bloom’s taxonomy knowledge and comprehension). Students then use the hand-held scope to complete the lab exercise identifying and classifying sedimentary rocks. Student mastery of knowledge and comprehension during the instructor demonstration enables more lab time for application of the technology and analysis of several sediment samples (higher-level Bloom’s taxonomy).

  • Using Technology for Active Learning_GSA 2013.pdf (1.8 MB)
  • LSU SOAR program.pdf (6.8 MB)