Students’ response to the introduction of active learning and computational practices in a bachelor-level earth science course
Earth science education should provide space for students to engage with real-world problems involving complex earth systems and their societal implications. However, the ill-structured nature of such problems creates uncertainty among both teachers and learners. To explore the effect of this uncertainty, we designed and taught a bachelor-level earth science course that introduced geology students to computational practices allowing them to work with authentic data, methods, and ill-structured problems. In addition, the course was designed entirely for active learning and formative assessment. Students provided reflection notes as part of every learning activity, and a series of focus group interviews were conducted at the end of the course to triangulate student experiences with computational practices and problem solving in groups. Our findings suggest that the introduction of computational practices to novices, combined with the transition from passive to active forms of learning, were major sources of uncertainty. This uncertainty needs to be understood and confronted in order for students to engage with real-world problems in an effective manner. On the other hand, our results indicate that collaborative work in groups can alleviate some of the effects of this uncertainty. Our study also supports the systematic use of student reflections as a means of fostering feedback literacy among students as well as teachers.
Copyright (c) 2023 Tor Einar Møller
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