Paper No. 57-8
Presentation Time: 3:55 PM
THE EFFECTS OF MINING ON RURAL COMMUNITIES: CO-TEACHING SOCIAL AND EARTH SCIENCES TO MOTIVATE STUDENTS AND IMPROVE RETENTION IN MINERALOGY AND PETROLOGY COURSES (Invited Presentation)
Students often report difficulty engaging with minerology and petrology content. Presenting this material in the context of societal issues is one way to surmount this hurdle and improve learning outcomes. Additionally, co-teaching with a social scientist is an especially powerful approach. Designing lessons that explore interactions between Earth materials, petrogenesis, geologic history, economic forces, population and sociology, and public health ground the content for the students and can improve student engagement at a variety of class levels. One example lesson employs this approach as a jigsaw activity to explore these topics in the South Pass mining district in Wyoming, USA where iron ore was mined from 1962–1995 from a Archean (2.8 Ga) banded iron formation. Each student is assigned to one of five expert-level groups and given materials to research one of the aforementioned disciplines. After researching the topics students assemble in master-level groups to convey their newly gained expertise and discuss the connections between their topical areas. The overarching goals of the lesson are for students to 1) recall the relevant expert-level facts, 2) observe and interpret the patterns within the data of each discipline, 3) hypothesize about and investigate connections between the disciplines, 4) synthesize and revise these connections after initial and ongoing formative assessments. Expert-level groups will employ and be assessed on skills such recalling, identifying cause and effect relationships in a single dataset, performing basic calculations with their data. Master-level groups will focus on skills such as developing models, identify and analyze themes, and extrapolating trends to the future. Prompting questions and class discussions with the geographer and geologist instructors present will help guide their progress through the activity. Exam questions that explore similar datasets from different locations will measure the students’ knowledge of the underlying concepts. This activity brings social science together with Earth science in a co-teaching environment that exposes students to the real-world consequences of a variety of geology phenomenon. The context helps motivate student learning and improves retention of the fundamental concepts taught in Earth Materials classes.