GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 183-5
Presentation Time: 2:35 PM


DILEONARDO, Christopher, Geology Department, Earth & Space Sciences Program, De Anza College, 21250 Stevens Creek Boulevard, Cupertino, CA 95014

Though “teaching to the test” is avoided and even openly scorned by most faculty, the truth is that students, in general, learn to the test. Building on this general concept and using it to engage students in higher level-learning, case-based and partially collaborative testing models were adopted in many of the Introductory Geology classes at De Anza College. The case-based approach emphasized data and observation analysis, application of concept, and problem solving. Adopting the collaborative approach within the model for exams and the preparatory process leverages the findings of many studies in undergraduate STEM education that showed that structured collaboration leads to greater success in various student populations.

The Game of Stones was one of these case-based and collaborative exam sequences involving a midterm and final exam based on the mythical lands portrayed in the popular HBO series “Game of Thrones.” A base map was secured showing the physiography of the mythical world. Additionally, the geology of specific locations depicted in the series were incorporated. From there various maps, cross-sections and other data depicting the geology were created. The goal was to develop an integrated and geologically consistent world. For the midterm and final exams “Exam Packets” were created consisting of a number of figures representing the geology at various scales for this mythical world. At the beginning of exam week, the students were given access to these figures to create the exam packet. Additionally, students were encouraged to write their interpretations of the geology presented directly on the figures. These were used both in the collaborative take-home portion of the exams as well-as the more traditional in-class portion. The results of the case-based, partially-collaborative exams, including the Game of Stones, was greater student engagement as illustrated by student success ratios. This was particularly evident in student populations at the college that had historically-lower success percentages. The Game of Stones represents a potential model for case-based, collaborative exams that could be replicated at other colleges and universities nationwide.