Paper No. 65-14
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM
3D VISUALIZATION SKILLS - DO STUDENTS POSSESS THE TRAINING AND CONFIDENCE NEEDED TO SUCCEED AT CAPSTONE SUMMER FIELD COURSES?
Capstone field camp courses provide unique opportunities to assess aspects of student preparedness and confidence that are often difficult to evaluate with program learning outcomes and exit interviews. Geologic cross section construction and 3D visualization are some of the most significant skills developed at field camp. To better understand student preparedness, we conducted a study of matriculating field camp students (N = 504) drawn primarily from four Midwestern universities. The results of our study suggest that students lack confidence in using their 3D visualization skills to generate admissible geologic cross-sections. Indeed, only 65.1% feel confident in their 3D visualization skills and 37.4% of students are satisfied with their ability to construct admissible cross sections. In general, students with ample practice with formal methods of geologic cross section construction (e.g., Busk and Kink) report having higher levels of confidence employing the fundamentals of cross-section construction. Furthermore, while 59.2% of students have experience producing cross-sections from textbook exercises and published map data, only 43.3% have experience using their own field data. We hypothesize that these reported levels of confidence are likely associated with insufficient formal instruction, curriculum that focuses excessively on rigorous methodologies that are not always applicable at the undergraduate level, and/or a lack of practice using personally collected field data. The survey results also suggest a significant disparity between self-reported levels of confidence between males and females. Females report feeling overall less confident and less knowledgeable than their male counterparts. Interestingly, we found that while males report completing more geoscience courses, females report having more practice producing cross-sections. In a parallel study, we analyzed geologic maps and corresponding cross-sections generated by students during their first and final weeks at camp over an eight-year period. Preliminary results suggest that gender differences effectively disappear by the end of the sixth week, supporting the hypothesis of Piburn et al. (2001) that gender differences in spatial thinking diminish with practice.