GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 46-2
Presentation Time: 2:05 PM


JONES, Francis, LONGRIDGE, Louise, SUTHERLAND, Stuart and HARRIS, Sara, Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia, 2020, Earth Sciences Building, 2207 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada,

Can research-based face-to-face (f2f) instructional strategies be adapted for large enrollment, distance education (DE) geoscience courses? To address this question, we first articulate a framework for considering learner “interactions” in the context of learners’ motivation, deliberate practice, peer-assisted learning and timely feedback. Our first success involved adapting a f2f rock and fossil-based lab. Video records show that f2f students find the handling of real specimens inspiring, a carefully constructed worksheet helps them practice and apply skills and knowledge, group work enables peer-assisted learning, and instructors offer real-time feedback. To build an equivalent online exercise using the same framework, both the types and sequences of learner interactions required modifications. We developed a simple virtual lab space with interactive virtual specimens. DE students use these interactive resources to complete paper worksheets before entering results (including figure annotations) online for automatic assessment. The last step has students work in small group discussion boards to produce a collective version of a final stratigraphic interpretation. Discussion boards also enable quick instructor feedback throughout.

Effectiveness in this and three other courses was evaluated by comparing qualitative and quantitative data sets in f2f and DE settings. Deliverables and outcomes were similar in both settings, as was regular feedback (via questions embedded within tasks) about students’ perceptions, workloads and enthusiasm. Learning Management System analytics and Dichotomous Bloom’s taxonomy analysis helped assess the performance of online tasks, and showed DE students interact more with content and peers than before activities were introduced. Total instructional “costs” were similar, although required instructional tasks differ. In summary, we found that f2f learning strategies can be adapted for large enrollment DE courses, but care and attention is required with respect to the sequencing of tasks, and to the ways students interact with content, peers and instructors. We will close by outlining refinements to this model aimed at fostering and measuring scientific reasoning in a very large first year natural hazards course, taught in both f2f and DE settings.

  • GSA-fhmjones1710120.pdf (1.1 MB)