GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 306-5
Presentation Time: 2:45 PM


SLIKO, Jennifer L., School of Science, Engineering, and Technology, Penn State Harrisburg, 777 West Harrisburg Pike, Middletown, PA 17057 and COLDSMITH, Jordan Taylor, The Gateway Engineers, Inc., 400 holiday drive, Suite 300, Pittsburgh, PA 15220,

While hybrid and fully online lecture-based classes have become commonplace in many departments, online laboratory sections are still relatively rare and, if offered at all, are typically a class designed for non-majors to fulfill general education requirements. Many earth science educators continue to be skeptical of the value of online labs in introducing majors to core geologic principles, including rock and mineral identification. As part of an online physical geology lab-based class designed for geology and engineering majors, we require students in the online class to purchase a specifically designed lab kit for use at home while completing the online-based lab activities. The online lab also utilizes a variety of web-based simulations and mapping projects to ensure that the learning experience is comparable to that of a traditional lab.

To examine if students learn the same basic geologic concepts in the online lab as students in the traditional class, we compare anonymous, traceable assessments in both methods of course delivery. These assessments, administered pre- and post-semester, are analyzed to determine if post-course assessment scores are statistically higher than pre-course assessment scores. Results of statistical analyses show that students learn the same basic geologic concepts in both online and traditional lab sections. These results suggest that online geology labs incorporating active learning materials and a rock identification kit are a viable substitution for traditional physical geology labs.