GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 230-4
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM


KREAGER, Bailey Zo, Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, Northern Illinois University, 302 Davis Hall, Normal Road, DeKalb, IL 60115 and LADUE, Nicole, Geology and Environmental Geosciences, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115

People naturally use a frame of reference to locate, describe, or interpret an object's location in the world. There are several types of frames of reference that an individual can use when describing an objects location. Environmental (or the position of the object in relation to the surrounding scene) and Object (or the position of one object in relation to another) frames of references are thought to be important for diagram interpretation. The psychological literature suggests that almost all people use an environmental frame of reference when interpreting object locations in a diagram. This study tests how geologic expertise impacts the frame of reference that is used while interpreting objects by comparing geologists’ evaluation of geologic scenes with non-geologic scenes. A survey of 162 geologists was administered at the 2017 Geological Society of America Conference to assess their frame of reference on two non-geologic scenes and two geologic content scenes. A non-significant Chi-square test showed no difference in how geologic novices (0-4 geology courses) viewed the geologic and the non-geologic images (p= 0.801). However, significant differences were observed with geologic intermediates (5-9 courses) and experts (10 or more courses) on how they answered the content general and content specific questions (p= 0.00 and 0.018, respectively). The results suggest that intermediate and expert geologist use an object frame of reference for the geologic questions. However, for the non-geologic questions there was no preference for an object or environment frame of reference. These results do not replicate psychology studies suggesting that most participants should use an environmental frame of reference for the non-geologic questions. The results of this pilot study suggest that increasing geologic knowledge impacts individuals’ judgement of frame of reference. Overall, geologists at all levels use an object frame of reference more than would be predicted from the psychological literature for both geologic and general content scenes. Future research with a larger sample comparing geologists with non-geologists is warranted to support the findings of this pilot work. Additional data may support the use of this assessment as a useful indicator for geologic expertise.