GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 264-8
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


FALK, Emma K., Geography and Atmospheric Sciences, Northern Illinois University, 302 Davis Hall, Lincoln Hwy, DeKalb, IL 60115, LADUE, Nicole, Geology and Environmental Geosciences, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115, HOLDER, Lauren N., Geology and Environmental Geosciences, Northern Illinois University, 302 Davis Hall, Normal Road, DeKalb, IL 60115, SHIPLEY, Thomas F., Department of Psychology, Temple University, 1701 North 13th Street, Weiss Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19122 and DOLPHIN, Glenn R., Dept. of Geoscience, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada

Students struggle to interpret diagrams in introductory geology courses because they are visually complex and represent spatially challenging concepts. These challenges can cause students to misinterpret diagrams. Course clicker quizzes, using classroom response systems or “clickers”, test the spatial thinking of students, as well as their knowledge of topics and concepts in geology. This study examines non-science majors’ spatial thinking patterns and conceptual challenges in an introductory geology course by comparing pre-course to end-of-course clicker responses. In Spring of 2019, 191 undergraduate students enrolled in a course at a large Canadian university consented to participate in this research study. Matched pre- and end-of-course responses totaled 126. The number of participant responses for an individual diagram varied based on whether they fully participated in the pre- and end-of-course assessment. Data were collected in an introductory geology course using the Top Hat classroom response system. Using ArcGIS, we plotted the student responses on each JPEG of the diagrams. We selected regions of correct and incorrect responses using polygons, and each student response was categorized as correct or incorrect based on the ArcGIS analysis. Using a Chi-square statistic in SPSS, we found significant differences in pre-course and end-of-course responses. The findings of this study suggest that clickers are a useful tool for documenting learning. Instructors can use the Top Hat heat map feature to qualitatively observe the differences in students pre- and end-of-course responses. This type of ArcGIS analysis can be a beneficial tool for research to identify common, alternative, incorrect responses and to document students’ spatial challenges using diagrams. Large data sets can be collected in a short time frame to characterize how classroom interventions improve spatial understanding. Future work includes mixed-methods research with structured interviews to better understand the nature of the conceptual challenges.