TRYING TO ENHANCE SIGNIFICANT LEARNING OF MINERALOGY
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN09 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain
Abstract:Mineralogy is typically the first core curriculum course encountered in a university program for Geological Sciences. After some years of teaching this discipline in the University of Basque Country (UPV/EHU, Spain), the experience has allowed us to identify some important problems in the learning process. Notwithstanding that most students are able to remember the main characteristics of the most common minerals at the end of the course, the majority exhibits great difficulties to use this knowledge to identify them and to associate them with a formation environment. Moreover, it is noteworthy the persistence of erroneous concepts or misconceptions, which frequently are detected too late, after the exams or even in other related subjects. On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that in our actual plan of study, mineralogy is divided in two different subjects: while the first one involves the study of mineral classification and description of mineral properties, the second one is dedicated to their microscopic analysis. Although both contribute to the same knowledge, this division seems to complicate the comprehension of the mineralogy as a whole. Unfortunately, the lack of a significant learning in mineralogy prevents the students to use it in meaningful practise contexts and to understand it in the global framework of the Geological Sciences. In an effort to provide solutions and encourage autonomy and independent learning, we decided to incorporate different teaching and evaluating strategies into our course:
1. Self-reflection surveys, which provide the learners with the opportunity to identify misconceptions and to self-assess their level of understanding. Students are asked to review several statements about the material covered in class, which include the management of multiple concepts in a given scenario.
2. Concept mapping: students' work together in groups (some of them using specific software as CmapTools) to identify a common level of understanding by constructing a concept map about a given topic. During this stage, student collaboration is developed in a supportive learning environment, where learners may improve their initial level of understanding as a result of peer instruction by other group members.
3. Scoring rubrics: one of the main concerns when applying alternative teaching methods is to ensure sufficient content coverage and to assess learners´ improvement. Different rubrics (both analytical and holistic) have been used to evaluate to evaluate the students´ degree of achievement of the corresponding outcomes.
4. Use of LCMS (Learning Content Management System): most of these activities have been supported by eKASI, the e-learning platform developed at the University of the Basque Country as an additional resource for the education at the lecture-hall. This tool allows the students to have access to the information posted by the teachers and to approach on line collaboration and discussion of the materials.
Keywords: innovation, teaching strategies, mineralogy.