GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - 2018

Paper No. 83-12
Presentation Time: 11:00 AM


CLIFFORD, Thomas and ARTHURS, Leilani, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, Campus Box 399, 2200 Colorado Avenue, Boulder, 80309-0399

STEM professionals and the nonscience public use scalar thinking to understand and interpret the massive size of our Universe, the miniscule size of molecules, and the vast age of the earth. As such, scale is highlighted as a crosscutting concept in the Next Generation Science Standards (2013) and is fundamental to science literacy as promoted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2008). Although scalar thinking is fundamental to STEM-related careers and public science literacy, how scalar thinking skills develop is not yet well understood.

To help fill this gap in knowledge, we conducted a study to examine existing studies on scalar thinking. The initial theoretical framework for this study is Newcombe and Shipley’s typology for spatial thinking (2015), which we apply to scalar thinking. We used the integrative literature review methodology (Torraco, 2005). The data collected are peer-reviewed journal articles published in the English language found using the online databases Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC), JSTOR, ProQuest, PubMed, and Web of Science with different combinations of search terms. The articles are examined using textual content analysis, which also forms the basis for iterative rubric development based on themes found in the examined literature.

The online searches yielded 2,140 articles. Of these, 77 articles met the initial inclusion criteria and, at the time of writing this abstract, 37 of these articles were analyzed by a single rater. Of these, 30% were independently coded by a second rater. Comparisons of independent coding results yielded an initial interrater agreement of 91%. Subsequent discussion of discrepant codes resulted in 100% inter-rater agreement. In this presentation, we report our findings about the types of theories and models used as theoretical frameworks in research studies about scalar thinking. These theories and models can be used by others to inform empirical research on scalar thinking.