IMPACTS OF INCORPORATING SMALL-GROUP ACTIVE-LEARNING ACTIVITY MODULES ON STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AND ATTITUDES IN AN INTRODUCTORY GEOLOGY COURSE
Module activities were completed outside the scheduled lecture periods, typically with multiple 60-90 minute sessions offered each week. Participation in individual activities was controlled by signups, which limited session sizes to 6-15 students, depending on the activity. During the activity module, students investigated topics via discovery-based learning that scaffolded with course lecture concepts, such as examining mineral properties via SEM analysis, modeling the impact of land-use changes on flood risks, or taking a walking tour of campus to explore rock types and landform development. The effects of these modules on student achievement and engagement were assessed by pre- and post-tests, an online survey that was released to module participants, and by an end-of-course survey. Overall, participation in the learning modules had a positive correlation with performance on class exams; students who participated in more than five learning modules had a higher course grade average than their peers. Continuing efforts will focus on developing ways to integrate these active-learning approaches into larger lecture courses, and longer-term tracking of student attitudes towards the geosciences and their class experiences.