Building geoscience vocabularies using a data visualization tool (WorldWatcher)
Michael R. Taber, Kristin Quadracci, 2006. "Building geoscience vocabularies using a data visualization tool (WorldWatcher)", Earth and Mind: How Geologists Think and Learn about the Earth, Cathryn A. Manduca, David W. Mogk
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Tools for visualizing data provide an opportunity for students to build useful understanding of geoscience vocabularies. Edelson's (2001) Learning-for-Use framework serves as an instructional model for designing an experience for students in which they can learn fundamental geoscience concepts. This paper presents results from an experiment on project-based learning with three cohorts (in subsequent semesters) of preservice elementary teachers. The context for the experiment was a capstone science course for preservice elementary teachers. The project consisted of six steps in which students were instructed to create a paleotemperature map of the Late Jurassic. Students made their decisions based on their constructed knowledge about factors that influence near-surface air temperature: latitude (axial tilt and curvature), topography and subsequent lapse rate, atmospheric effect, and surface cover (albedo). Analyses of reflection papers and classroom observations from each step in the project indicated improvement in content knowledge for all student cohorts. However, regarding the ability to perform complex analysis, only students who successfully built new geoscience vocabularies performed better on predicting and defending their final temperature maps. This is attributed to their ability to use, not just define the geoscience vocabularies contained in the project.