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SOLVING REAL GEOLOGY SITUATIONS USING PROGRAMMING TECHNIQUES

A. Alonso, A. Casillas, M. Peñagarikano, L. Ortega

Universidad del País Vasco UPV-EHU (SPAIN)
Nowadays, Geology grade students take an introductory to computation, the subject is taught in first semester of the first course of geology degree.
For the last years, the teachers of the subject “Introduction to computation” feel dissatisfaction with interest of student groups for the subject. First, the students do not understand the necessity of learning any programming language, they do not perceive the computation as an important skill for science and second, they have not identified the application of the learned concepts in the subject to others subjects of the chosen discipline.

The main objective of this project is to show to the students how they can use programming techniques to solver different geology problems. The new strategy that we are planning to implement includes designing some computer activities that are based on topics related to geology live with the aim to perceive the applicability of programming languages in real situations or conditions.

After explaining basic concepts on programming language as well as geologic concepts of the learning activities, the first phase of the proposed experience include some changes of the practical exercises that the students have to solve in the context of the Introduction to computation subject. New activities will be designed based on the previous teachers experiences and on the students opinions. In the project the students are considered as valued members of a learning community therefore, their reactions and opinions are essential for get a good synergy between geology and programming. Several specific and key transversal competences are going to be worked such as: to get basic knowledge on geology and technology; to understand the formulation problems related to the resolution of geology situations; to apply properly programming techniques in the resolution of different problems related to geology phenomenons; to know an actual computation language; to work as a team cooperating more fully with one another and more creatively.

Finally, the knowledge of the geological concepts and computation techniques that the students must get are those to manage basic skills on programming for resolving geological problems working on a team group. Working on a team scenario they must learn geological processes, programming basic techniques, the use of SciLab language, resolve some common geological questions using Scilab and/or programming techniques .

The students manage and solve the new practices and can evaluate these new practices. After considering the students opinion, we could redesign some practices. Teachers have assessed students on previous and posterior design of the experience. Different tools and techniques could be use on assessing geological concepts and computation skill and attitudes. We are planning to do a daily evaluation based on different the situations that are outlined in the teaching class and based also on the students' response to these situations
We are thinking also on holding several meetings with voluntary students including those which are repeat students.

To conclude, we think that there is a need of change the actual approach of the Introduction to computation subject, we are going to try to get change by implementing the explained project in the next school year.