GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - 2018

Paper No. 83-1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM


LOMBARDI, Doug, Teaching & Learning, Temple University, 1301 Cecil B Moore Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19122

Geoscience literacy involves both (a) knowing what scientists know and (b) knowing how scientists know what they know. Specifically, students must learn how to scientifically evaluate the connections between lines of evidence and alternative explanations about geoscience phenomena. Scientific evaluations are iterative. For example, some climatologists construct predictive models representing Earth’s atmosphere, and then collect empirical data to calibrate these models. Evaluation of connections between lines of evidence (e.g., sea surface temperatures) and scientific explanations (e.g., the interdependence of oceans and atmosphere) could lead to subsequent model refinements and validation with additional empirical data. Such dynamic evaluations are complex and require well-developed scientific thinking. But such thinking may be difficult for geoscience students to learn and for instructors to teach. Because of this difficulty, instructional scaffolds may be required to help students learn how to critically evaluate connections between evidence and explanations.

Our design-based research projects focus on systematically developing and testing instructional scaffolds to facilitate students’ evaluations in geoscience classrooms. We concentrate on the geoscience domain because: (a) the underlying scientific principles are complex, (b) the processes frequently occur over very long timescales, and (c) students have difficulty understanding how scientifically accurate explanations are constructed. Furthermore, some topics in geoscience are particularly salient because they concern issues of great local, regional, and global importance (e.g., availability of freshwater resources). Therefore, robust classroom-based research investigating scaffolds that facilitate geoscience students to think more scientifically is useful to systematically understand contemporary learning environments. This presentation will overview such research and discuss how well-designed, classroom-based research can have meaningful implications for practice.

Our research is supported, in part, by NSF under Grant Nos. DRL-1316057 and DRL-1721041. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the NSF’s views.