How do students and geologists combine observations from scattered rock outcrops to form a 3-dimensional mental model

Kim A. Kastens

 Two questions about learning that are central to, and characteristic of, geoscience education are: 1)How do people learn by direct observation of Nature in the field? and; 2) How do people learn to comprehend, visualize, manipulate, and interpret structures and processes in three dimensions? This research on learning project addresses both of these tough questions, in the context of field geology learning.

Eight artificial outcrops of a realistic size and realistic shape were installed on the Lamont campus.  Study participants were introduced to what field geologists do and then were individually taken to each of the outcrops.  Participants were then asked to imagine, describe and select from a set of sample shapes what the full size outcrop shape would be.  Study researchers examined participant inscriptions, actions, selection of the 3-D physical models and the videotaped explanations of the participant as they completed the activity. 

Faculty, Scientists, and Staff: