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The Case Study Method for the Assessment of Student Learning: Using Scientific Reasoning and Deep Geological Time to Predict Future Environmental Impacts.

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Presentation on theme: "The Case Study Method for the Assessment of Student Learning: Using Scientific Reasoning and Deep Geological Time to Predict Future Environmental Impacts."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Case Study Method for the Assessment of Student Learning: Using Scientific Reasoning and Deep Geological Time to Predict Future Environmental Impacts Chen Zhu Geological Sciences and School of Public and Environmental Affairs Brooke A. Treadwell Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

2 Acknowledgements  Departmental colleagues, Simon Brassell, Claudia Johnson, Michael Hamburger, Jim Brophy, Bruce Douglas for sharing interests and discussions  Lilly Freshmen Learning Project leaders Joan Middendorf, David Pace, and Simon Brassell and “cohorts”  Collaborators for this research project: George Rehrey and Claudia Johnson

3  Often, the immensity of deep geological time (DGT) is very difficult for non-science majors to understand and to use when applying it to geological problems  DGT can be both a bottleneck and a threshold concept for many science classes  DGT is important for student success within Geology and other sciences (Hawkins 1978)  Prepare scientifically literate, informed citizens to vote in elections that will impact environmental policy on high- stakes issues such as climate change/the carbon tax and nuclear waste disposal. The Teaching and Learning Problem

4 The 4.6 billion-year history of Earth Dinosaur extinction 65 mya

5  We are now in Holocene Epoch (11,500 years before present to the present)  Holocene is an interglacial period  Pleistocene “most recent in Greek” (11, million years before present)  Last glacial maximum 25,000 years ago

6 Preconceptions inhibit students from achieving an adequate understanding of DGT  Numerical difficulties: Millions vs. billions (Trend 2000) Dinosaurs died before life began (Libarkin 2007)  Confusion about basic science Lunar phases (Schoon & Boone 1998) Reasons for seasonal change (DeLaughter & Stein 1998) Global warming is due to destruction of Ozone layer Review of Literature DeLaughter, J. E. and S. Stein (1998). "Preconceptions about earth science among students in an introductory course." EOS 79:

7  Elementary School  Ault, C. R. (1982). "Time in geological explanations as perceived by elementary school students." Journal of Geological Education 30:  High School  Hidalgo, A. J. and J. Otero (2004). "An analysis of the understanding of geological time by students at secondary and post-secondary level." International Journal of Science Education 26(7):  Dodick, J. and N. Orion (2003). "Measuring student understanding of geological time." Science Education 87(5):  College  Libarkin, J. C., J. P. Kurdziel, et al. (2007). "College student conceptions of geological time and the disconnect between ordering and scale." Journal of Geoscience Education 55(5):  Catley, K. M. and L. R. Novick (2009). "Digging deep: Exploring college students' knowledge of macroevoluntionary time." Journal of Research in Science Teaching 46(3): Review of Literature

8  Visualize magnitude by analogy or metaphor-based activities  (Pyle 2007).  Equate geologic time to physical distance  (Richardson 2000, Hemler & Repine 2002)  Translate DGT into a familiar time span (one calendar year)  (Everitt, Good & Pankiewicz 1996, Nieto-Obregon 2001).  Create personal metaphor  (Ritger & Cummins 1991). All these activities presuppose that once students compare the geological time scale to a familiar distance, volume, mass or time period, they will be more likely to grasp the brevity of humans’ existence on Earth relative to the enormity of DGT. Review of Literature – Suggested Learning Activities

9 Geologic Time Metaphors

10

11  Environmental Geology G171 for non-science majors  Possibly a gateway course  37 undergraduates in 2009  73% of students - First college science course  49% of students - Self reported knowing “almost nothing” about DGT  Only 8% indicated being highly confident in their understanding of DGT Situational Factors

12 Introductory Geology Courses G103 Earth Science: Materials and Processes Brophy/DunningFall/Spring G104 Evolution of the EarthBrassell/MillenFall/Spring G105 Earth, Our Habitable PlanetPratt/DouglasFall/Spring G111 Physical GeologyBrophyFall G112 Historical GeologyPollySpring G114 Dinosaurs and Their RelativesJohnsonFall G116 Our Planet and Its FutureDunningFall/Spring G171 Environmental GeologyZhu/DouglasFall/Spring

13  Quantitative skills: Large numbers, abstract numbers Proportions and scales  Lack of scientific background and literacy  Relation between geological time scale and something real (dinosaurs died a long, long time ago, 65 mya) Why is DGT a bottleneck?

14  Can participation in distance-metaphor building activities help students visualize the immensity of DGT?  Does learning DGT help students acquire better scientific reasoning skills?  To what extent does the case study method enable students to understand and apply the concept of DGT to problem-solving? The Research Questions

15  Decoding Discipline Model and the Freshman Learning Project  Where do most students get stuck? –Pace, D and Middendorf, J Decoding the disciplines: Helping students learn disciplinary ways of thinking. New Directions for Teaching and Learning Summer, no. 98. –Pace, D and Middendorf J Easing entry into the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning through focused assessments: The decoding the disciplines approach. In To Improve Academy, (Bolton: Anker Publishing). Background to Project

16  Innovation: (a) a real world environmental problem with the need of understanding geological time scale that students can relate to and engage with; (b) future vs. past; (c) apply/outcome driven  Scaffold learning - based upon Anderson’s Revised Taxonomy of Educational Objectives How this study is different Cognitive ProcessUnderstand >Apply >Analyze Learning Opportunities Readings 3 - Lectures Class activities 2 LabsHomework #2 Case-Study in final exam Anderson, Lorin W., David R. Krathwohl, and Benjamin Samuel Bloom. A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing : A Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Abridged ed. New York: Longman 2001.

17 Geological Repository for High- level Nuclear Wastes Las Vegas Nevada Test Site Nevada Yucca Mountain

18 Into the realm of geological time scale  July 9, 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia vacated Environmental Protection Agency’s 10,000-year period for compliance  Now to 1 million years or “within the period of geologic stability”

19 In the next million years …

20 All of these orbital changes influence the amount of sunlight hitting the Earth. The recurrence of ice ages is roughly on 100,000 and 40,000 time scales Milankovitch cycle

21  Personal engagement  Nuclear waste example; requires society’s decision and has an outcome students may care about;  Case Study: local coal burning power plant (part of the final exam);  Lab requires students to create a visual product representing geological time and apply it to the nuclear waste and global warming problems;  Authentic Assessment – Students are asked to do the “type of thinking” and tasks that the expert in that field would do. How this study is different Wiggins, Grant P Educative assessment: Designing assessments to inform and improve student performance. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass.

22 Mark the following events on the toilet paper, each sheet = 20 million years Lab – Part I Sheets Geological timeEvents ,000 Age of human ,000,000 Formation of Himalayan Mountains ,000,000 Dinosaurs became extinct ,000,000 Early birds and mammals ,000,000 Dinosaurs appear, final assembly of Pangaea ,000,000 Early trees, formation of coal deposits ,000,000 Beginning of Cambrian period, rise of multi-cellular animals 1703,400,000,000 Earliest life-forms (single-celled bacterial) 1903,800,000,000 Oldest known Earth rocks 2304,600,000,000 Origin of Earth

23 Using the perforations between sheets as a ruler, mark the names of items as listed in the table below. You will have to calculate the number of sheets required to complete each step in the table below. Each sheet of the paper towel is equal to 10,000 years Lab – Part II Step #TimeEvents 1~ 781,000 BPlast magnetic pole reversal 2~126,000 BPbase of Eemian interglacial phase 3~100,000 BPNeanderthal man 450,000 BPFirst Homo sapiens 515,000 BPThe last glacial maximum 613,000 BPHumans first inhabit North America 710,000 BPEnd of last Ice Age, Modern man 88,000 BPFounding of Jericho, the first known city 9~6000 BPHuman written records 102,000 BPRoman domination of the world BPEuropean rediscovery of the Americas 12~ 450 BPscientific revolution 13 ~220 BP First President of United States 14~150 BPIndustrial revolution began 15 ~ 40 BP Humans first explore the moon 16 0 Now 17 2 AP Congressional election, AP Known crude oil reserves are used up (these numbers are highly contested. This number comes from Wikipedia as of November 14, 2006) 72 AP Known natural gas reserves are used up (these numbers are highly contested. This number comes from Wikipedia as of November 14, 2006) ~96 AP Global warming effects set in and global mean temperature increase 2 -4 o C. Sea level rises 18 ~100 AP The birth of your 5 th generation offspring. 252 AP Known coal reserves are used up (these numbers are highly contested. This number comes from Wikipedia as of November 14, 2006) AP The 100 th Olympic game AP The 100 th FIFA World Cup 21 ~ 4000 AP The 1000 th President of the United States 22 ~4800 AP 5000 th anniversary of the foundation of the United States 23 ~25,000 AP Your 1000 th great grandchildren 24 ~50,000 AP Next ice age 25 1,000,000 AP Safety of the Yucca Mountain repository

24  Given your knowledge of the geological time scale and human history, what seems like a reasonable and feasible time period for the nuclear waste to be stored safely at the Yucca Mountain geological repository? Would 10,000 years be enough? 100,000 years? 1,000,000 years? Why? Be sure to support your answer by using geological numbers and the time scale of events that you identified in the lab. This answer should be about 4-5 sentences long. Follow up Homework

25 Write an essay in which you either agree or disagree with the following statement: “We are in the warm period of the glacial and inter-glacial cycle, and are surely heading toward the next glacial period. Therefore, global warming is a good thing because it will delay the coming of the next ice age.” Follow-up Homework

26 I. Pre-course knowledge survey at first class II. Lectures and class discussion about DGT III. Distance-metaphor building lab IV. Post lab survey/homework/essay V. Post-course knowledge survey at last class VI. Final take home exam using case study method Class Activities

27  Pre and Post-Knowledge Survey  Post lab survey  Final Exam – Case Study Evidence of Student Learning

28  Measure students’ perceptions of their ability to solve problems, not their actual ability.  Nuhfer and Knipp (2003) found that very few students display gross overconfidence when self reporting. They concluded that such “aberrations contributed by occasional individuals never affect a class average in a significant way” (p. 66).  We averaged student scores to draw conclusions about improved DGT understanding and application. Knowledge Survey Nuhfer, E. and D. Knipp (2003). "The Knowledge Survey: A Tool for All Reasons." To Improve the Academy 21:

29 Selected Questions  Explain the Geological Time Scale & why it is important to Environmental Geology  Describe the age of the earth in geological time and how we know it is an accurate estimation  Estimate the number of years we should guarantee buried high level nuclear waste will be safe at Yucca Mountain. Explain why.  Estimate how far back we need to look into the geological past to determine if human activity is causing climate change. Describe why this is significant. Scale: How confident are you that you could answer this question on a graded test:  1 – Not confident  3 – Somewhat confident  5 – Very confident Knowledge Survey

30 Pre and Post-Knowledge Survey Results Survey Test Question Pre- survey Post- survey Change Explain the Geological Time Scale and why it is important to Environmental Geology Explain the time frame for determining the possible adverse effects of global warming (tens, hundreds, thousands, millions of years) Describe the time frame for the cycle of glacial and interglacial periods (approximately tens, hundreds, thousands, millions of years) Identify the Milankovich cycles and explain why they are important to Environmental Geology Describe the age of the earth in geological time and how we know it is an accurate estimation Identify how far back we need to look into the geological past to determine if human activity is causing climate change. Explain why this is significant Explain how scientists predict the future safety of nuclear waste disposal and what factors they must consider Total Average Score

31 Strongly Disagree Agree Strongly Agree The lab helped me understand Geological Time The lab helped me visualize the immensity of the Geological Time Scale The lab helped me relate geological time to current real world issues and the search for solutions The lab helped me answer the homework question about burying nuclear waste at Yucca mountain The lab helped me answer the homework question about human activity and global warming The lab help me understand the time frame for the cycle of glacial and interglacial periods The lab helped me see the relationship between the current geological era we are living in and the Geological Time Scale Post Lab Survey

32 Post Lab Survey Results Ratings: 1 = strongly disagree 5 = strongly agree

33  You just joined a student environmental group. Write the text of a presentation you will give to IU student government defending the belief that anthropogenic activities are a contributor to global warming, and hence an important reason why IU should retire its coal fired power plant. Your presentation should:  Explain the immensity of geological time, variations in CO 2 concentrations and glacial & inter-glacial cycles within the Quaternary  Use scientific reasoning (observations, theory, experiments, evidence & facts) to show that the CO 2 increase is likely beyond natural variability  Use graphs to support your argument  Identify 2 other contemporary environmental issues which require an understanding of the geological time scale. Explain how. Case Study

34 Criteria  Description of the immensity of DGT  Use of DGT to describe the link between the CO 2 rise & global warming to human activity  Use of DGT to argue that global warming won't inhibit next ice age  Explanation of how DGT is key to understanding other environmental issues (excluding global warming) Scores  3 – accurate answer, clear & detailed  2 – accurate answer, some detail  1 – vague/unclear/answer indicated misunderstanding Case Study Rubric

35 Case Study Results 65%Met 1 or more criteria, demonstrating at least a basic understanding of DGT 56%Demonstrated the ability to use scientific reasoning 45%Met 2 or more criteria, demonstrating a solid understanding of DGT 17.5%Met all 4 criteria, demonstrating an excellent understanding of DGT 7.5%Met and exceeded all 4 criteria, demonstrating an exceptional understanding of DGT

36  Students perceived the distance-metaphor activities as enabling them to visualize the immensity of DGT  Large increase in students’ confidence in their ability to engage in scientific reasoning using DGT  The majority of students demonstrated the ability to use DGT to engage in scientific reasoning  The majority of students applied the concept of DGT to problem-solve within case-study assignments Conclusions

37 Adjustments to the course  This Fall we added an additional metaphor building activity to the lab, asking students to create their own visual depiction of the immensity of DGT, after they have worked in teams using the toilet paper exercise to visualize its immensity. Further Research  Larger sample size  Examine students’ ability to transfer problem solving skills to a different discipline, course, or problem set Next Steps

38 Thank you

39 Case Study Results 65%Met 1 or more criteria, demonstrating at least a basic understanding of DGT 45%Met 2 or more criteria, demonstrating a solid understanding of DGT 17.5%Met all 4 criteria, demonstrating an excellent understanding of DGT 7.5%Met and exceeded all 4 criteria, demonstrating an exceptional understanding of DGT 56%Demonstrated the ability to use scientific reasoning

40  Ault, C. R. (1982). "Time in geological explanations as perceived by elementary school students." Journal of Geological Education 30:  Catley, K. M. and L. R. Novick (2009). "Digging deep: Exploring college students' knowledge of macroevoluntionary time." Journal of Research in Science Teaching 46(3):  DeLaughter, J. E. and S. Stein (1998). "Preconceptions about earth science among students in an introductory course." EOS 79:  Dodick, J. and N. Orion (2003). "Measuring student understanding of geological time." Science Education 87(5):  Everitt, C. L., S. C. Good, P. R. Pankiewicz (1996). "Conceptualizing the inconceivable by depicting the magnitude of geological time with a yearly planning calendar." Journal of Geoscience Education 44:  Fink, L. Dee (2003). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass.  Hawkins, D. (1978). "Critical barriers to science learning." Outlook 29:  Hemler, D. and T. Repine (2002). "Reconstructing the geologic timeline." The Science Teacher 69(4):  Hidalgo, A. J. and J. Otero (2004). "An analysis of the understanding of geological time by students at secondary and post-secondary level." International Journal of Science Education 26(7): Sources

41  Libarkin, J. C., J. P. Kurdziel, et al. (2007). "College student conceptions of geological time and the disconnect between ordering and scale." Journal of Geoscience Education 55(5):  Nieto-Obregon, J. (2001). "Geologic time scales, maps, and the chronoscalimeter." Journal of Geoscience Education 49(1):  Novak, J. D. (1988). "Learning science and the science of learning." Studies in Science Education 15:  Nuhfer, E. and D. Knipp (2003). "The Knowledge Survey: A Tool for All Reasons." To Improve the Academy 21:  Pace, D and J Middendorf (2004). Decoding the disciplines: Helping students learn disciplinary ways of thinking. New Directions for Teaching and Learning Summer, no. 98.  Pyle, C. (2007). "Teaching the time: Physical geography in four dimensions." Teaching Geography 32(3):  Richardson, R. M. (2000). "Geologic time (clothes) line." Journal of Geoscience Education 48: 584.  Ritger, S. D. and R. H. Cummins (1991). "Using student-created metaphors to comprehend geologic time." Journal of Geological Education 39:  Schoon, K. J. (1992). "Students' alternative conceptions of Earth and space." Journal of Geological Education 40:  Schoon, K. J. and W. J. Boone (1998). "Self-efficacy and alternative conceptions of science preservice elementary teachers." Science Education 82(5):  Trend, R. D. (2000). "Conceptions of geological time among primary teacher trainees, with reference to their engagement with geoscience, history, and science." International Journal of Science Education 22(5):  Wiggins, Grant P. (1998). Educative assessment: Designing assessments to inform and improve student performance. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass Sources

42 Atmospheric CO 2 in the past

43 Yucca Mt. – Potential Repository  Desert climate (170 mm/yr vs. Bloomington ~1200 mm/yr);  On federal land;  Away from large population centers;  Nevada has only two congress men (and two senators);  30 years study and 30 billion dollars.

44 Infiltration rate  At present, evaporation exceeds precipitation (170 mm/yr) - hypothesis;  Water drips down in tunnel – reality check;  When is the next ice age?

45 Estimated Recharge for Yucca Mountain (Zhu et al. Water Resources Research, 2003) 5±1 mm/yr 15±5 mm/yr U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Next 10 ky13-64 mm/yr 10 ky - 1 ma


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