2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 208-4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


NUNEZ, Brian E.1, LUKES, Laura A.2 and RUSHING, Madeleine B.1, (1)Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences, George Mason University, 4400 University Dr., Fairfax, VA 22030, (2)CTFE; Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, & Earth Sciences, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, 241 Johnson Center, Fairfax, VA 22030, brianenunez@gmail.com

Introductory course experience is believed to be a major pathway to attract new geology majors (Houlton, 2010) and little is known about this experience in geoscience courses (2012, National Research Council). Student studying techniques, in particular, are rarely researched for geology courses. From analyzing student reflections on how they learn, we can gain a better view into how students are experiencing the learning process in/outside of the classroom. A series of student pre and post-test reflection activities, also known as exam or cognitive wrappers, were used to characterize student studying methods and habits throughout one semester in an introductory Historical Geology course. Students were asked to identify the resources and learning strategies they used to study, as well as the timing of when they chose to study. Student confidence in the effectiveness of their learning strategies was also measured by proxy through student estimations of what their assessment scores would be for each module quiz, which initiated the reflection process and allowed students to self-monitor the effectiveness of their study habits. Most studying reportedly occurred within four days prior to an assessment, with a notable decline during weekends for all modules. Students reported a studying focus on instructor posted slideshows and study guides, in addition to assigned learning material, rather than a reliance on the textbook. While a variety of learning strategies were reported for studying, it was found that rereading notes from class was the most frequently reported strategy used for all modules. Students were mainly overconfident in predicting their assessment scores for the first, second, and fourth modules, and were under confident with their predictions for the third module. Exam wrappers and student reflection activities can be used to better support students by allowing faculty to track individual student self-reflection process and their change in strategy use as it relates to specific content. The aggregate data from these activities also informs the instructor of the perceived value of instructor-provided resources and course structures. Reflection on these insights can be used to improve the overall student experience.