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ERIC Number: ED549811
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 144
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2673-0567-1
Utilizing an Artificial Outcrop to Scaffold Learning between Laboratory and Field Experiences in a College-Level Introductory Geology Course
Wilson, Meredith
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University
Geologic field trips are among the most beneficial learning experiences for students as they engage the topic of geology, but they are also difficult environments to maximize learning. This action research study explored one facet of the problems associated with teaching geology in the field by attempting to improve the transition of undergraduate students from a traditional laboratory setting to an authentic field environment. Utilizing an artificial outcrop, called the GeoScene, during an introductory college-level non-majors geology course, the transition was studied. The GeoScene was utilized in this study as an intermediary between laboratory and authentic field based experiences, allowing students to apply traditional laboratory learning in an outdoor environment. The GeoScene represented a faux field environment; outside, more complex and tangible than a laboratory, but also simplified geologically and located safely within the confines of an educational setting. This exploratory study employed a mixed-methods action research design. The action research design allowed for systematic inquiry by the teacher/researcher into how the students learned. The mixed-methods approach garnered several types of qualitative and quantitative data to explore phenomena and support conclusions. Several types of data were collected and analyzed, including: visual recordings of the intervention, interviews, analytic memos, student reflections, field practical exams, and a pre/post knowledge and skills survey, to determine whether the intervention affected student comprehension and interpretation of geologic phenomena in an authentic field environment, and if so, how. Students enrolled in two different sections of the same laboratory course, sharing a common lecture, participated in laboratory exercises implementing experiential learning and constructivist pedagogies that focused on learning the basic geological skills necessary for work in a field environment. These laboratory activities were followed by an approximate 15 minute intervention at the GeoScene for a treatment group of students (n = 13) to attempt to mitigate potential barriers, such as: self-efficacy, novelty space, and spatial skills, which hinder student performance in an authentic field environment. Comparisons were made to a control group (n = 12), who did not participate in GeoScene activities, but completed additional exercises and applications in the laboratory setting. Qualitative data sources suggested that the GeoScene treatment was a positive addition to the laboratory studies and improved the student transition to the field environment by: (1) reducing anxiety and decreasing heightened stimulus associated with the novelty of the authentic field environment, (2) allowing a physical transition between the laboratory and field that shifted concepts learned in the lab to the field environment, and (3) improving critical analysis of geologic phenomena. This was corroborated by the quantitative data that suggested the treatment group may have outperformed the control group in geology content related skills taught in the laboratory, and supported by the GeoScene, while in an authentic field environment (p = 0.01, d = 0.507). [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A