GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 284-7
Presentation Time: 9:45 AM


GARNIER, Bridget C., Geoscience, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, WI 53706, CHANG, Maria D., Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, ORMAND, Carol J., Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College St, Northfield, MN 55057, MATLEN, Bryan, Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, SHIPLEY, Thomas F., Department of Psychology, Temple University, 1701 North 13th Street, Weiss Hall, RM 315, Philadelphia, PA 19122 and TIKOFF, Basil, Department of Geoscience, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1215 W Dayton St, Madison, WI 53706,

Collaboration between cognitive scientists and geoscience educators has increased our understanding of how geoscientists think and how educators can support student development of spatial thinking in the geosciences. Yet, it is still difficult to distill and implement cognitive science research into educational materials to address a direct problem in one’s classroom. An interdisciplinary, design-centered approach was used to increase sketching in introductory courses, solving a problem identified by surveyed instructors, while incorporating cognitive science-based principles. Collaboration between geoscientists, cognitive scientists, and artificial intelligence (AI) researchers resulted in: 1) Identifying spatial skills important to the geosciences; 2) Using current research to learn how to support these skills in common geoscience problems; and 3) Developing sketching exercises that use a sketch-understanding program called CogSketch. CogSketch employs qualitative spatial reasoning to serve as a tutor, providing students with on-demand feedback and has automatic-grading capabilities, which can increase the amount of sketching in a course with negligible instructor time. We used CogSketch to develop 26 sketch-based worksheets – available on the SERC website – that use cognitive science-based principles to scaffold problem solving of spatially complex problems common in the geosciences. An implementation in an introductory geoscience course where students used either CogSketch worksheets or human-graded paper workouts provided insights into how the program and the sketching exercises were used by students. Overall, this research highlights the principles of interdisciplinary design between cognitive scientists, geoscientists, and AI researchers that can inform the collaborative design process for others aiming to develop effective geoscience educational materials that integrate cognitive science principles and support spatial learning.