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Challenges in making meaning from ground-motion visualizations; the role of geoscience knowledge in interpreting dynamic spatiotemporal patterns

Michael R. Brudzinski, Allison Jaeger and Thomas F. Shipley
Challenges in making meaning from ground-motion visualizations; the role of geoscience knowledge in interpreting dynamic spatiotemporal patterns
Seismological Research Letters (April 2019) 90 (4): 1692-1701

Abstract

The USArray ground-motion visualization (GMV) is an Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) video product that illustrates how seismic waves travel away from an earthquake by depicting seismometers as symbols that vary in color according to the recorded amplitudes. GMVs are typically the most popular product the IRIS produces following an earthquake (e.g., approximately 10,000 unique views for a recent Oklahoma earthquake). Many instructors feel that dynamic visualizations offer learning advantages over static media when demonstrating dynamic processes, but research indicated they can impede learning by placing greater information processing requirements on the learner. We sought to evaluate changes in student understanding of seismic waves from GMVs by collecting data from three different college-level settings: general student population in a psychology laboratory (novices), students in middle- and upper-level geoscience courses (geoscience majors), and a seismology research group. A seven-question multiple-choice assessment was developed for use in all three settings and then administered in the laboratory and classroom. Using a similar question before and after the GMV viewing, we found that most geoscience majors understood seismic-wave concepts prior to the GMV and the GMV improved their understanding. Only about half of the novices appeared to understand seismic-wave concepts prior to the GMV and performance decreased after the GMV. Performance decreases were larger when students watched an alternative tutorial GMV developed to further illustrate what a GMV represents. An increase in the breadth of incorrect answer selections by novices indicates they became more confused about what happens to energy from an earthquake when shown a GMV. Lower performance on other post-GMV questions by novices suggests that the current style of GMVs are unable to teach basic seismological concepts to people who do not have some formal geoscience training. Although web traffic to GMVs indicates people's interest in watching the videos, watching GMVs does not appear to translate to improved understanding of seismic waves for novices. Future development of dynamic visualizations such as GMVs should consider the cognitive load these learning materials impose on the learner and seek to further implement principles of multimedia instructional design that minimize cognitive processing demands.


ISSN: 0895-0695
EISSN: 1938-2057
Serial Title: Seismological Research Letters
Serial Volume: 90
Serial Issue: 4
Title: Challenges in making meaning from ground-motion visualizations; the role of geoscience knowledge in interpreting dynamic spatiotemporal patterns
Affiliation: Miami University of Ohio, Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Science, Oxford, OH, United States
Pages: 1692-1701
Published: 20190417
Text Language: English
Publisher: Seismological Society of America, El Cerrito, CA, United States
References: 47
Accession Number: 2019-038048
Categories: Seismology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 2 tables, sketch maps
Secondary Affiliation: Temple University, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2020, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Seismological Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 201920
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