WHAT DO UNDERGRADUATES’ PERCEPTION OF THE RELEVANCE OF GEOSCIENCE AND SOCIETY HAVE IN COMMON WITH THE HUMAN-EARTH RELATED EARTH SCIENCE LITERACY PRINCIPLES? STUDENTS IDENTIFY CERTAIN TOPICS AS APPLICABLE FOR DECISION-MAKING FOR A MORE SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
Qualitative data (in the form of open-ended responses) were collected over the course of a semester in an active-learning introductory geology course. Course structure, instructor pedagogical practices and student demographic profile characteristics were described. A repeated short-answer question was administered online at the end of each module and a different short-answer question completed on the final exam aimed to capture students’ perception of the relevance of geoscience in society and for decision-making for a more sustainable future. The Earth Science Literacy Principles (ESLPs) human-Earth related Big Ideas served as a guide to characterize student responses. Analysis of repeated open-ended responses (n=238) showed that students placed a greater emphasis on some geoscience concepts as more relevant to society than others. The geoscience concepts students described as relevant were similar to the human-Earth related concepts stated in the ESLPs. Topics identified as most relevant included natural hazards, water and energy resources and climate change. Student responses on the final exam (n=75) revealed the link between perception of relevance of geoscience content and the ability to make sustainable decisions for the future. This study indicates that undergraduates are cognizant of the connection of geoscience and a sustainable society.