Assessment of Learning in Entry-Level Geoscience Courses: Results from the Geoscience Concept Invent...
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Assessment of Learning in Entry-Level Geoscience Courses: Results from the Geoscience Concept Inventory. What is Geoscience Concept Inventory?. What do Teachers really know about the geosciences? What are the teachers’ own views about common geoscience topics? What are the students learning?

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Assessment of Learning in Entry-Level Geoscience Courses: Results from the Geoscience Concept Inventory


What is geoscience concept inventory
What is Geoscience Concept Inventory? Results from the Geoscience Concept Inventory

  • What do Teachers really know about the geosciences?

  • What are the teachers’ own views about common geoscience topics?

  • What are the students learning?

  • How can students conceptual understanding be quantified?

  • Based on the development of ‘Force Concept Inventory’ that changed the way physicists viewed teaching & learning in college level physics.

  • Assessment through questionnaires from entry level college geoscience courses.


How was data collected
How was data collected? Results from the Geoscience Concept Inventory

  • Multiple choice questions distributed to 43 courses at 32 institutions in 22 states

  • Both pre- and post-tested at beginning and end of courses

  • Teaching methods were included for post-test analysis

  • Teachers provided breakdown of time on each method (wide range across the distribution of participants)


How was data analyzed
How was data analyzed? Results from the Geoscience Concept Inventory

  • Classical test theory approaches, particularly through item analysis

  • Item response theory using simple Rasch models (Item Response Theory) which resulted in development of test scale more geared toward raw scores instead of scaled scores

  • Item difficulty; analyzing by % of participants answering a specific item correctly (or incorrectly)


Data results discussion
Data Results & Discussion Results from the Geoscience Concept Inventory

  • Evaluation of test data in relation to class size, institutional type and faculty instructional approaches provided insight into teaching effectiveness.

  • Preliminary data suggests some ideas are stable across institution, suggesting an entrenchment of (pre-existing) ideas

  • Pre- and Post-test analysis indicate students on average were familiar with only half of the conceptions covered on the test after completing the courses

  • Analysis was separated by score, <40%, 40-60%, >60%. Those students with lower pre-test scores showed an increase of understanding post-test. But those with >60% showed no change in pre- and post-test scores (67% average on both tests)


Entrenchment of ideas
Entrenchment of ideas Results from the Geoscience Concept Inventory

  • Student population retained several alternative ideas over the course of the semester with consistent results across institutions

  • Pre-existing ideas on scale of geologic time and plate tectonics, although significantly covered by both the teacher and the book, still showed poor understanding at the end of the course


Conclusions implications
Conclusions & Implications Results from the Geoscience Concept Inventory

  • Post-instructional gains in understanding at the college level are small, with most students exiting courses with similar conceptions that they entered with

  • But, those students entering with little pre-knowledge did show marked gain in information (GCI test scores)

  • Qualitative and quantitative analysis of teaching approaches and curriculum development need modification to increase students’ conceptual understanding of geoscience


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