GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 284-1
Presentation Time: 8:10 AM


ARTHURS, Leilani, Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 330 Bessey Hall, P.O. Box 880340, Lincoln, NE 68588,

Understanding the human mind and its mental processes is a complex endeavor that could not be achieved in traditional disciplinary silos of academe. Cognitive science, therefore, emerged as a discipline to understand especially human cognition using theories, methodologies, and methods drawn from diverse fields including neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and education. These interdisciplinary efforts yielded findings over the past ~35 years that can be applied to (i) understanding how people think about and understand Earth processes and phenomena and (ii) developing strategies for teaching to enhance student learning of geoscience.

A review of the cognitive science and geoscience education literature was conducted to (i) identify cognitive science concepts with potential applicability to learning geoscience and (ii) determine which of these concepts have been explicitly applied to and documented in instructional approaches to teach geoscience in classroom, lab, and/or field settings. Preliminary results of the literature review indicate that (i) there are several concepts out of cognitive science that have potential utility for shaping geoscience instructional strategies and (ii) these concepts are largely absent from accounts of geoscience instructional activities that take place in classroom, lab, and field settings. As such, illustrative examples are provided for how cognitive science could be used to (i) understand the difficulties and challenges that students confront in learning geoscience and (ii) shape instructional strategies that may help facilitate deep learning of geoscience.