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

Paper No. 151-6
Presentation Time: 2:25 PM


PETCOVIC, Heather L., Department of Geosciences and The Mallinson Institute for Science Education, Western Michigan University, 1903 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5241, ORMAND, Carol J., Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College Street, Northfield, MN 55057 and KRANTZ, Robert W., Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tuscon, AZ 77079

Sketching is a powerful form of visualization, and has long been a means of data collection, interpretation, hypothesis testing, and communication in the field. However, little prior work has explored the role of sketching in geoscience education. The purpose of this study is to describe how a sample of novice and expert geoscientists sketch a structurally complex field area, and to explore sketching preferences between participant groups.

The study population (N=42, 26% female, mean age 43) were participants in the 2013 AAPG Hedberg Research Conference, and included industry geoscientists (n=21), academic geoscientists (n=14), and non-geoscientists (n=7, software engineers and cognitive scientists). As part of the conference, participants visited the Hat Creek fault zone in NE California, a complex normal fault zone in the U.S. Basin and Range. At Hat Creek, recent deformation has offset young volcanic basalts, creating a true structural surface with faults expressed as eroded scarps. Participants sketched elements of the fault zone as part of 3 interpretation exercises, but were free to choose exactly how and what to sketch.

A total of 361 individual sketches were collected (minimum of 3, maximum of 21, and mean of 8.9 sketches per participant) and thematically coded in order to capture the type and frequency of sketch representation and annotations. The dominant sketch types were perspective landscape sketches (35.7% of all sketches), maps (28.5%), cross sections (18.0%), and block diagrams (12.5%). Nearly half of sketches (49.3%) were sets of related representations. Annotations were dominantly text used to label features (65.7%), fault symbols (46.0%), text or symbols indicating uncertainty (38.0%), and strike and dip symbols (37.7%). Preliminary analysis indicates that industry geoscientists more frequently draw maps and edit their sketches, whereas academic geoscientists more frequently draw cross sections and diagrams in related sets. Novices are most likely to draw landscape sketches from their actual viewpoint. This work has implications for geoscience education and industry training; despite the ubiquity of digital imagery, sketching remains important in refining geoscientists’ skills in observation and interpretation.