Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of



Leilani Arthurs

Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 57, n. 5, November, 2009, p. 356-371. Copyright (c) 2009 National Association of Geoscience Teachers; distributed under Creative Commons license.


Interactive engagement pedagogies that emerge from a constructivist model of teaching and learning are often a challenge to implement in larger classes for a number of reasons including the physical layout of the classroom (e.g. fixed chairs in an amphitheater-style room), the logistics of organizing a large number of students into small peer-learning groups, the ability of a single instructor to personally interact with each of many small groups, and the design of small group activities that are engaging and facilitate student learning. For a large introductory-level Environmental Geology college course, 5 coupled collaborative class-long in-class activities and individual follow-up homework were designed and implemented around key topics and specific learning goals. The goals behind designing and implementing these coupled in-class activities and homework were to (1) improve student attitudes towards science and learning science and (2) improve their content knowledge and conceptual understanding. To evaluate the extent to which these goals were achieved, 5 forms of assessment were used: a pre-instruction entrance questionnaire, pre- and post-instruction attitudinal surveys, pre- and post-instruction course tests, a post-instruction exit questionnaire, and post-instruction exit interviews. The findings from these forms of assessment suggest that the coupled in-class activities and individual follow-up homework improved targeted student learning outcomes.