MODELLING SEISMIC RISKS: VALIDATING THE USE OF GOWIN’S VEE
When students have contact with teaching models they become capable of building more consistent mental models. This reconstruction process is often complex and may generate cognitive conflicts. Modern geology acquired a laboratory nature only in the early nineteenth century. These initially models evolved into sized ones , built with rules of proportionality. Nonetheless, they were incorporated in textbooks ensuing learning objectives and forgetting the required analogy between the model and the phenomenon or the real geological process that they try to represent. In addition to using materials without analogous rheological behaviour, school models also forgot dynamic, kinematic and geometric similarities. A heuristic tool to help students to understand the construction of scientific knowledge and further develop their scientific competencies must accompany the use of modelling in the classroom. The Vee heuristic for understanding knowledge and knowledge production is the result of more than 20 years of research undertaken by his author. Gowin was searching for a method to help students understand the structure of knowledge and the ways in which humans produce knowledge. It was called heuristic because its objective was to help to solve a question or understand a procedure. It was initially used to clarify the nature and purpose of laboratory work, and it is now used in many different subjects and with different purposes such as evaluating scientific knowledge or scientific competencies. This work involves the construction of two teaching models focused on seismic risks. In addition to the construction of these models, the correspondents Gowin’s Vee were validated as heuristic tools for inquiry-based teaching and learning. Two modelling activities were conducted, both requiring the manipulation of only one variable (all other variables remained constant). The first activity intended to answer the question "How does the distance to the epicentre influence the effects of an earthquake on the anthropogenic constructions?" The second modelling activity intended to answer the question "What is the effect of seismic waves in sandy and clay soils, when inclined at 30º?" The activities were filmed for subsequent analysis and aid in the classification of Gowin’s Vee. The Gowin’s Vee were classified by assigning 10 points to each item. Notwithstanding recognized efficiency of Gowin’s Vee , the validity of the Gowin’s Vee that were used in the present research was confirmed through content analysis, undertaken by 21 experts in two consecutive academic years. In the first year 19 students from two public schools of the north of the country, attending the 8th grade (average age of 13.3 years) answered the instruments. In the second year 9 students from a public school of the north of the country, attending the 8th grade (average age 13.7 years) carried out the activities. Following this validation, the reliability of the instrument was determined by measuring answers in two consecutive school years, which was undertaken by different observers. The consensus was up to 80% showing the reliability of the instruments, which can be used in future studies with similar samples.
The authors acknowledge the funding provided by the Institute of Earth Sciences (ICT), under contract with FCT (the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation).