NAGT > Publications > JGE > Columns > Research in Science Education

Research in Science Education

This column is devoted to highlighting the findings of current research into science education.

The Role of Gestures in Geoscience Teaching and Learning (Acrobat (PDF) 3.9MB Oct28 08)
Kim A. Kastens, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Columbia University
Shruti Agrawal, Lamont-Soherty Earth Observatory
Lynn S. Liben, Pennsylvania State University - University Park
JGE, v. 56, n. 4, p. 362-368
Instroduction - Gestures are an integral part of communication among people of all ages and cultures. People gesture during spontaneous conversations with friends. Teachers gesture when explaining a scientific concept to a class. Students gesture as they work together when learning a new scientific principle. So do scientists during "lab-talk."
Research has shown that gestures are not merely idle arm-waving; they are profoundly connected to cognition and perception, and can convey subtle meanings that would be awkward or impossible to convey in language alone. For an educator or education researcher, gestures can therefore provide a window into students' thought processes, even when the students do not articulate their understandings or misunderstandings in words.
This column reviews seminal research on gestures in the domains of problem solving, science education, field-based education, spatial tasks, and scientists' discourse. We present evidence that gestures are of value for both gesturer and recipient, review hypotheses about why gestures are valuable, analyze examples of gesture as used by both instructors and students while discussing geoscience topics, offer suggestions for geoscience educators, and conclude with directions for future research.
URL for this article: http://nagt.org/nagt/jge/columns/methodologies.html#v56p362

Threshold Concepts (Acrobat (PDF) 426kB Apr21 08)
Alison Stokes, University of Plymouth
Helen King, University of Plymouth
Julie C. Libarkin, Michigan State University
JGE, v. 55, n. 5, November, 2007, p. 434-438
Abstract - This article introduces the idea of threshold concepts as a means to better understand student learning and, hence, to develop an enhanced curriculum to facilitate that learning. The debate surrounding threshold concepts is relatively recent and has mainly been focused within other disciplines such as economics, maths and history. Following on from their contributions to a conference in the UK on threshold concepts in geography, earth and environmental sciences, the authors are seeking to open the debate more widely to the geoscience community and thereby begin to develop an understanding of what this new approach to learning means for our subject area.
URL for this article: http://nagt.org/nagt/jge/columns/methodologies.html#v55p434


The Expert-Novice Continuum (Acrobat (PDF) 545kB Oct9 07)
Heather L. Petcovic, Western Michigan University
Julie C. Libarkin, Michigan State University
JGE, v. 55, n. 4, September, 2007, p. 333-339
Introduction - José teaches a capstone course for geoscience majors, and has recently become head of his department's curriculum committee. As José prepares for the first meeting of the curriculum committee and considers the structure of his capstone course, he is thinking about what his department should expect their undergraduate students to know or be able to do by the time they graduate. Some of his students will go on to geology related jobs, particularly in the environmental industry, and others will be attending graduate school in MS or PhD programs. In addition to acquiring a core of factual knowledge about the geosciences, he would also like his students to gain an accurate understanding of important geologic processes, to be able to think critically about spatial data, and to learn to integrate processes and data into a holistic model of the Earth and Earth processes. In short, his goal is to have students learn to "think like a geoscientist" - to move their thinking and skills along the continuum from geology student (novice) to geoscience professional (expert). What does José mean by this, and how can he achieve this goal?
URL for this article: http://www.nagt.org/nagt/jge/abstracts/sep07.html#v55p333


Gender and the Geosciences (Acrobat (PDF) 108kB Jul8 05)
JGE, v. 51, n. 4, September, 2003, p. 446-452

Julie C. Libarkin, Science Education Department, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Josepha P. Kurdziel, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan
This installment looks at whether gender does have an affect on who becomes tenured faculty at colleges and universities. The authors examine the gender balance of undergraduate and graduate students and then discuss the percieved disparity when these are compared to the number of geoscience faculty who are women.
URL for this article: http://nagt.org/nagt/jge/columns/methodologies.html#v51p446


Training Graduate Teaching Assistants to Teach (Acrobat (PDF) 107kB Jul8 05)
JGE, v. 51, n. 3, May, 2003, p. 347-351

Julie C. Libarkin, Science Education Department, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Josepha P. Kurdziel, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan
In this column, the authors examine the process of building a development program for graduate TA's, summarize the research in this area and highlight the areas where more research is needed.
URL for this article: http://nagt.org/nagt/jge/columns/methodologies.html#v51p347


Mental Models and Cognition in Education (Acrobat (PDF) 125kB Jul8 05)
Julie C. Libarkin, Science Education Department, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Meredith Beilfuss, Science Education Department, Indiana University
Josepha P. Kurdziel, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan
JGE, v. 51, n. 1, January, 2003, p. 121-126
In this column, the authors give an overview of current research on what types of mental models students build to understand the world and distinguishes them from one another. They go on to talk about how the type of model a student has constructed affects how they are able to assimilate new information.
URL for this article: http://nagt.org/nagt/jge/columns/methodologies.html#v51p121


Undergraduate Research Mentoring, Teacher Workshops, and K-12 Outreach Activities (Acrobat (PDF) 598kB Jul8 05)
JGE, v. 50, n. 5, November, 2002, p. 602-609

Julie C. Libarkin, Science Education Department, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Josepha P. Kurdziel, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan
This installment examines which characteristics are central to quality research experiences for undergraduates and science teachers, what mentors can do to improve the research experiences of undergraduates in the laboratory, and what strategies have been demonstrated to be effective for the professional development of science teachers. The article also discusses ways to determine the effectiveness of teacher workshops and the types and usefulness of outreach activities between scientists and the K-12 educational community.
URL for this article: http://nagt.org/nagt/jge/columns/methodologies.html#v50p602


Visualization and the Geosciences (Acrobat (PDF) 508kB Jul8 05)
JGE, v. 50, n. 4, September, 2002, p. 449-45
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Julie C. Libarkin, Science Education Department, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Josepha P. Kurdziel, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan
This article provides information about what methods are most useful in teaching students visualization skills, as well as what types of future research can ensure that accessible educational strategies will be effective for enhancing spatial and visualization skills.
URL for this article: http://nagt.org/nagt/jge/columns/methodologies.html#v50p449


Students Ideas About the Nature of Science (Acrobat (PDF) 1.6MB Jul8 05)
JGE, v. 50, n. 3, May, 2002, p. 322-329

Julie C. Libarkin, Science Education Department, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Josepha P. Kurdziel, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan
In this column, the authors explore how three assistant professors in fictional geology departments attempted to assess college students' understanding of the nature of science. They also discuss the usefulness of both qualitative and quantitative data in this assessment, and the ways in which assessment can impact teaching reforms.
URL for this article: http://nagt.org/nagt/jge/columns/methodologies.html#v50p322


Qualitative Data (Acrobat (PDF) 666kB Jul8 05)
JGE, v. 50, n. 2, March, 2002, p. 195-200

Julie C. Libarkin, Science Education Department, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Josepha P. Kurdziel, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan
This edition describes the work of a graduate student in geology who used a qualitative approach in an introductory geology class to determine how the course affects student learning. The article includes a brief description of what qualitative data is with examples of different approaches to collecting this data. The author concludes with a checklist to aid in the design of a qualitative research.
URL for this article: http://nagt.org/nagt/jge/columns/methodologies.html#v50p195


The Qualitative-Quantitative Debate (Acrobat (PDF) 2.7MB Jul8 05)
JGE, v. 50, n. 1, January, 2002, p.78-86

Julie C. Libarkin, Science Education Department, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Josepha P. Kurdziel, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan
This article discusses when it is appropriate to use qualitative techniques and when quantitative techniques are more suitable to a study. Topics that are used to help illustrate the difference between techniques include assessment objectives and mixed methodology research. An example study is provided to help the reader understand the differences.
URL for this article: http://nagt.org/nagt/jge/columns/methodologies.html#v50p78


Assessing Students Alternative Conceptions (Acrobat (PDF) 96kB Jul8 05)
JGE, v. 49, n. 4, September, 2001, p. 378-383

Julie C. Libarkin, Science Education Department, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Josepha P. Kurdziel, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan
This installment explores what some of the barriers are to achieving a higher level of student understanding in the geosciences. It discusses instructional strategies that will help students achieve a conceptual understanding of fundamental geoscience concepts and how to assess whether students have reached a deep conceptual understanding.
URL for this article: http://nagt.org/nagt/jge/columns/methodologies.html#v49p378


Strategies for Productive Assessment (Acrobat (PDF) 743kB Jul8 05)
JGE, v. 49, n. 3, May, 2001, p. 300-304

Julie C. Libarkin, Science Education Department, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Josepha P. Kurdziel, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan
This edition provides guidelines that help interpret published education research, apply this research to a classroom, and engage in research endeavors. The purpose of this article is to serve as a medium for highlighting the most important, useful, or easily applied techniques, with additional guidelines for what to look for in literature reviews.
URL for this article: http://nagt.org/nagt/jge/columns/methodologies.html#v49p300


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