2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 72-6
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM

LEARNING STRATEGIES AND ATTITUDES IN INTRODUCTORY-LEVEL GEOSCIENCE COURSES: PRELIMINARY FINDINGS OF A DEPARTMENTAL SELF-STUDY


MEAD, Chris, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Nebraska, 214 Bessey Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0340 and ARTHURS, Leilani, Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 330 Bessey Hall, P.O. Box 880340, Lincoln, NE 68588, cmead14@unl.edu

The main objective of this project was to characterize the learning strategies and attitudes about learning science present among students enrolled in five introductory-level geoscience courses in a single department for the purposes of (i) establishing a baseline in these courses before the instructors make changes to their courses in the future, thus facilitating analysis of the potential impact those changes have on students and (ii) comparing the state of our introductory-level geoscience courses with findings for other institutions in the published literature. Previous work, notably the GARNET project, has studied the impact of motivation, metacognition, and related traits on learning geoscience but our study is distinct in its examination of courses a single institution. Our survey contained items modified from the MSLQ. We administered the survey pre- and post-course in each of five courses for a total of 207 (pre-course) and 117 (post-course) responses. In an item-level analysis using a Wilcoxon signed-rank test we found significant (α = 0.05) pre- to post-course improvement on items related to intrinsic motivation, effort management, self-efficacy, and metacognition. This is particularly interesting in light of the GARNET finding that, with the exception of metacognition, those same traits generally decrease pre- to post-course. We are aware of the limitations of conclusions drawn from individual items, so we are in the process of conducting a confirmatory factor analysis, which will allow us to report changes in these traits at the factor-level.