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ERIC Number: ED569088
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 149
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3038-9137-3
Biogeochemistry Science and Education. Part One: Using Non-Traditional Stable Isotopes as Environmental Tracers. Part Two: Identifying and Measuring Undergraduate Misconceptions in Biogeochemistry
Mead, Chris
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University
This dissertation is presented in two sections. First, I explore two methods of using stable isotope analysis to trace environmental and biogeochemical processes. Second, I present two related studies investigating student understanding of the biogeochemical concepts that underlie part one. Fe and Hg are each biogeochemically important elements in their own way. Fe is a critical nutrient for phytoplankton, while Hg is detrimental to nearly all forms of life. Fe is often a limiting factor in marine phytoplankton growth. The largest source, by mass, of Fe to the open ocean is windblown mineral dust, but other more soluble sources are more bioavailable. To look for evidence of these non-soil dust sources of Fe to the open ocean, I measured the isotopic composition of aerosol samples collected on Bermuda. I found clear evidence in the fine size fraction of a non-soil dust Fe source, which I conclude is most likely from biomass burning. Widespread adoption of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) has increased their importance as a source of environmental Hg. Isotope analysis would be a useful tool in quantifying this impact if the isotopic composition of Hg from CFL were known. My measurements show that CFL-Hg is isotopically fractionated, in a unique pattern, during normal operation. This fractionation is large and has a distinctive, mass-independent signature, such that CFL Hg can be uniquely identified from other sources. Misconceptions research in geology has been a very active area of research, but student thinking regarding the related field of biogeochemistry has not yet been studied in detail. From interviews with 40 undergraduates, I identified over 150 specific misconceptions. I also designed a multiple-choice survey (concept inventory) to measure understanding of these same biogeochemistry concepts. I present statistical evidence, based on the Rasch model, for the reliability and validity of this instrument. This instrument will allow teachers and researchers to easily quantify learning outcomes in biogeochemistry and will complement existing concept inventories in geology, chemistry, and biology. [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:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A