Northeastern Section - 50th Annual Meeting (23–25 March 2015)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


SUMMA, Mark1, LARSEN, Kristine1, PIATEK, Jennifer L.2 and WEINSTEIGER, Allison1, (1)Geological Sciences, Central Connecticut State University, 1615 Stanley St, New Britain, CT 06050, (2)Department of Geological Sciences, Central Connecticut State University, 1615 Stanley St, New Britain, CT 06050,

The prevalence of geoscience misconceptions among students entering college has been previously studied by a number of authors. Many of these misconceptions have been utilized to construct concept inventory questions in order to measure growth in student understanding over the course of a semester. This study focused on the “Dynamic Earth” physical geology course at Central Connecticut State University. This introductory-level course serves students fulfilling general education requirements as well as Geology and Earth Science majors (as their first content course), and has been labeled as a perennial ”DFW” course by the university administration due to the unusually high percentages of students receiving low grades or withdrawing from the course. A multiple choice, twenty question pretest aligned with the course curriculum was crafted from questions housed on the online GCI (Geoscience Concept Inventory) and administered to all students within the course. The initial pretest average score of 46.3% correct answers illustrates the need for instruction on basic geoscience principles. The greatest level of misconceptions surrounded the concept of the greenhouse effect and the process by which our planet is heated. These same questions were placed on exams throughout the semester after the topic material was covered in lecture. The progression in learning of the individual students as well as the group as a whole was tracked. Special attention was paid to students who were simultaneously enrolled in the optional laboratory course for this class. Data provided by the university suggested that, in recent semesters, students who concurrently enrolled in the laboratory course had lower DFW rates (had greater success in terms of final grades). Based upon the final results of this study, adjustments may be made in the course to further address student misconceptions. This poster will also map our findings against national data, especially as to the issue of whether or not students who concurrently enroll in the optional laboratory course show more significant gains in learning than students who elect not to take the lab.