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VIRTUAL ECOLOGICAL INQUIRY MODULE: A Collaborative Project Between TAMU-ITS Center and CAS-CNIC Presented by: X. Ben Wu and Stephanie L. Knight Department of Rangeland Ecology and Mgt. and Department of Educational Psychology, Texas A&M University Virtual science museums ( VSM )

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VIRTUAL ECOLOGICAL INQUIRY MODULE: A Collaborative Project Between TAMU-ITS Center and CAS-CNIC

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VIRTUAL ECOLOGICAL

INQUIRY MODULE:

A Collaborative Project Between TAMU-ITS Center and CAS-CNIC

Presented by:

X. Ben Wu and Stephanie L. Knight

Department of Rangeland Ecology and Mgt. and Department of Educational Psychology, Texas A&M University


  • Virtual science museums (VSM)

    • provide rich ecological contents otherwise inaccessible to users

    • enhance user’s understanding of ecology and appreciation of biodiversity

  • VSMs also present great opportunities for

    • scientific inquiry-based learning in diverse ecological settings, for both informal and formal science education

    • novel approaches forassessment of learning

    • scienceeducation research on the impact of IT on learning.


  • IT-based Learning Environment

    • Virtual Ecological Inquiry, set in the mountain landscape of the Wolong Nature Reserve for authentic ecological inquiries

    • IT-based assessment tools – novel approaches and rubrics for assessing learning outcomes

  • Research on influence of IT and culture on student learning and attitudes


1. Virtual Learning Environment

  • A.Ecological Background

  • Spatial distribution of plants and influence of climate (temp and precip; latitudes vs. altitude) and topography

  • Environmental factors and their measurement

  • Plant adaptation (function groups)


  • B. Virtual Tour of Wolong

  • 3D rendition of Wolong landscape –

    • 3D rendition of topography, vegetation types, remote sensing imagery, plus general physical features

  • Virtual tour of individual vegetation types –

    • Video show of general characteristics

    • List of dominate plant species, with photo guides and a simple key for dominant plants

  • Photo guide and a simple key of the main plant (mostly tree) species


  • C. Developing Testable Hypotheses

  • based on observations (virtual tour), by students

  • pattern/distribution of plants (types and abundance) along the altitudal and topographic gradient

  • causes of the pattern (influence of environmental factors and their spatial pattern); ecological relationships


  • List 2 or more observed patterns in the vegetation distribution.

  • For each of them, offer as many possible reasons for the pattern as one can.

  • Choose one of the observed patterns and one of the reasons for the pattern; formulate 2 testable hypotheses, one for the observed pattern and one for the reason.

  • Describe data needed to test (support or refute) each of the hypotheses.


  • D. Virtual Field Investigation

  • Design virtual field investigation

    • Select two (or more) sites for a comparative study to test the hypotheses generated

    • Determine number of plots and relevant variables to sample

  • Conduct virtual field sampling

    • Collect data in each plot (2D stem map)

      • trees (sp, dbh)

      • Bamboo/shrub (sp, cover)

      • Environmental factors (elevation, slope, aspect, micro-climate, etc.)


1

3

2

4

B

5

A

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

A

13

14

15

C

D

Species: [Chinese]/[English], [Latin] Diameter at breast height (DBH): xx.x cm


  • E. Analysis, Interpretation and Synthesis

  • Data analysis -

    • Summary statistics of relevant variables (species, density, and size of trees; specie and relative abundance of shrubs) at different sites (use spreadsheet)

    • Correlation between these variables and env. Factors (with X-Y plots)

    • possibly simple statistical tests (t-test, 2 goodness-of-fit test)

    • Simple figures and/or tables (tools made available)


  • E. Analysis, Interpretation and Synthesis

  • Data analysis -

  • Interpretation of results –

    • What were your major findings?

    • Did your results support your hypothesis?

    • What other questions do you have based on your findings?

    • Suggestions for future investigations?

  • Scientific report, presentation

    • Scientific writing, on-line presentation

      • (level of complexity and expertise)


2. IT-based Assessment Tools

  • Determine users’attitudes toward ecology/science (online survey), conceptual knowledge.


Attitude Survey Scales & Examples

  • Interest

    • Time goes quickly when I work on the Virtual Ecological Inquiry.

  • Task Value

    • I expect to make use of the ecological knowledge I have learned.

  • Achievement Motivation

    • I usually finish the Virtual Ecological Inquiry modules I start.


  • Uncertainty of Science

    • I learn that ecological inquiries can yield unexpected results

  • Shared Control

    • I decide how much time I spend on learning activities when I’m doing Virtual Ecological Inquiry.

  • Collaborative Learning

    • Other VEI learners explain their ideas to me.


2. IT-based Assessment Tools

  • Develop and test rubrics for assessing learning outcomes related to components of the ecological inquiry (e.g., developing testable hypotheses based on observations, design of field investigation, data collection and analysis, and ecological interpretation).


2. IT-based Assessment Tools

  • C. IT-enabled Novel Assessment Approaches:

    • tracking user behavior to assess thought process;

    • determining level of engagement by capturing length of time actively involved online;

    • investigating cultural influenceson IT-based learning (differential behavior of users with different cultural background – different countries, classes, or mirror site users)


II. Research

Assessing the influence of IT and culture on student learning and attitudes

  • ITS Cohort III – Landscape Ecology and Conservation Project

    • Through research of ITS center participants at high school and undergraduate levels

  • Large ecology lecture classes (up to 500 students/semester) at Texas A&M

  • Multiple-session ecology labs (up to 200 students/semester) at Texas A&M

  • Other settings

    • Museums, web users, classes in China and US


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