INVESTIGATING & IMPROVING CONCEPTIONS OF TEMPORAL DURATION USING COMPUTER ANIMATIONS
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.