GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 74-3
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM


WILLIS, Siloa1, STERN, Robert J.1, RYAN, Jeffrey2 and RICCHEZZA, Victor J.2, (1)Department of Geosciences, University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, TX 75080, (2)School of Geosciences, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620

Well-crafted videos and animations of Earth processes can be powerful for teaching undergraduates, all the more so as students today rely heavily on the Internet for information. Although there is a need for video-based animations of complex Earth processes, very few are available that are simultaneously aesthetically pleasing, scientifically accurate, and appropriately targeted to their intended audiences. High-quality, accurate video animations have the potential to become an important supplement to textbooks and lectures, but how best to create them and foster their educational use is less clear.

With NSF funding, we are developing a selection of scientifically rigorous hybrid video animations of deep Earth processes. The most recent video focuses on how continents rift and sometimes form new oceans and passive continental margins. The fully original video is 10.6 minutes long, and aimed for use with upper division undergraduates and beginning graduate students (it can be viewed at This video was assessed for scientific content and accuracy through a survey of experts at the 02/2019 GeoPRISMS workshop in San Antonio, TX. It has been piloted in upper division Geosciences classrooms at UTD and USF, and classroom data collection and analysis is ongoing.

A key goal in the development of this video was to re-tailor it for use with a lower division student audience. A key challenge here is to match the cognitive load imposed on students by our video to what they encounter through textbooks and lectures. The upper division video has 39 “call-outs”, terms important enough to spell out in the video. We surveyed five introductory geology textbooks: Essentials of Geology 6th ed. (Marshak, 2019), Exploring Geology 5th ed. (Reynolds, 2018), Earth: Portrait of a Planet 6th ed. (Marshak, 2018), Earth: An Introduction to Geology 12th ed. (Tarbuck, 2016), and Understanding Earth 7th ed. (Grotzinger, 2014), to determine which of our call-out terms used were introduced, so we could align the video with introductory course content. We also surveyed students in introductory geoscience courses at USF and UTD to better establish what terms and processes they did and didn’t know. These results guided our modification of the upper division video for lower division audiences, to be presented at the meeting.