Southeastern Section - 62nd Annual Meeting (20-21 March 2013)

Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 10:55 AM


CHEEK, Kim A., Childhood Education, Literacy, & TESOL, University of North Florida, 1 UNF Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32224,

Geologic processes occur across many orders of magnitude and often take place over temporal periods outside human experience. The ability to use information about rate to judge the duration of a geologic event is one aspect of a concept of geologic time. To date, geologic time conceptions research has largely focused on the placement of events on the geologic time scale with few studies dealing with temporal duration of geologic processes or events. Poor conceptions about temporal durations of geologic processes abound, but the reasons for students’ confusion are relatively unexplored (Dodick and Orion 2003; Hidalgo and Otero 2004; Lee et al. 2011). The propensity to view time and spatial size as co-varying over human timescales (e.g., Casasanto and Boroditsky 2008) has been repeatedly demonstrated.

Seventeen university introductory geoscience students participated in task-based qualitative interviews. Participants watched computer animations of horizontal layers filling under various conditions to investigate their ideas regarding the relationships among spatial size, rate, and duration for geologic processes. Students tended to equate spatial size with temporal duration over short and long time periods, sometimes reinterpreting contradictory data to fit their assumption. They were most accurate in determining duration when size was held constant and rate varied. They were least successful judging duration when size and rate both varied and durations were the same. The animations used in this study have promise as teaching interventions. They appeared to invoke relevant geoscience content knowledge that students used when subsequently judging depositional periods of sedimentary strata. The potential use of animations of this type as a tool to help students investigate the relationships among rate, size, and duration of geologic processes will be discussed.

  • Cheek SE Section GSA 2013.pptx (1.2 MB)