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ERIC Number: EJ773040
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Sep
Pages: 24
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 49
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0036-8326
Measuring Student Understanding of Geological Time
Dodick, Jeff; Orion, Nir
Science Education, v87 n5 p708-731 Sep 2003
There have been few discoveries in geology more important than "deep time"--the understanding that the universe has existed for countless millennia, such that man's existence is confined to the last milliseconds of the metaphorical geological clock. The influence of deep time is felt in a variety of sciences including geology, cosmology, and evolutionary biology. Thus, any student that wants to master these subjects must have a good understanding of geological time. Despite its critical importance, there has been very little attention given to geological time by science education researchers. Of the work that has been done, much of it ignores the cognitive basis for students' understanding of geological time. This work addresses this gap by presenting a validation study for a new instrument--the GeoTAT (Geological Time Aptitude Test). Consisting of a series of open puzzles, the GeoTAT tested the subjects' ability to reconstruct and represent the transformation in time of a series of geological structures. Montagnero (1992, 1996) terms this ability "diachronic thinking." This instrument was distributed to a population of 285 junior and senior high school students with no background in geology, as well as 58 high school students majoring in geology. A comparison of the high school (grades 11-12) geology and non-geology majors indicated that the former group held a significant advantage over the latter in solving problems involving diachronic thinking. This relationship was especially strengthened by the second year of geological study (grade 12), with the key factor in this improvement being exposure to fieldwork. Fieldwork both improved the subjects' ability in understanding the 3-D factors influencing temporal organization, as well as providing them with experience in learning about the types of evidence that are critical in reconstructing a transformational sequence. (Contains 3 tables and 10 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 11; Grade 12; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Israel