Paper No. 306-3
Presentation Time: 2:15 PM
COGNITIVE BENEFITS OF TYING FIELD-BASED UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH TO LOCAL GEOLOGIC EVENTS
Internet video of newsworthy geologic events such as volcanic eruptions or earthquakes is often incorporated into undergraduate lectures. Witnessing these events, even second-hand, involves sensory input which can enhance student interest in the geologic processes that drive the events. Vicariously experiencing such events helps students internalize the temporal and spatial scope of dynamic geologic processes that shape and modify Earth’s surface. Local geologic events, even those that occur at a relatively modest scale, can be even more effective at engaging student interest because they are experienced first-hand. Using local geologic events as the basis for undergraduate investigative research can help students make concrete connections between temporal and spatial scales of geologic events and resulting geologic features. For example, the interactive connections among deposition, erosion, sediment supply, and accommodation space can be outlined and committed to memory in class, but investigating the effects of a local flood can make these abstract concepts concrete by transporting them into the realm of students’ own experience and by providing a cognitive hook upon which to which to hang new knowledge. Two recent geologic events in metropolitan Denver will be discussed in conjunction with how they have been incorporated into undergraduate research, how they have affected student engagement and learning outcomes, and how they are related to current understandings in cognitive science on how to optimize geoscience teaching and learning.