Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Threshold concepts in geology - the poll

I'm curious how many people agree with some of the threshold concepts in geology suggested by commenters (and by members of the UK group). So I figured out how to add a poll to Blogger. Please vote - I'm curious how many people have similar experiences.

(Edit: I've borrowed the idea of "threshold concepts" from a Journal of Geoscience Ed article, and it seems as though the idea has been floating around other science education communities for some time. Perhaps such things don't exist, and there are simply things that some students find difficult. But it they do exist, they might help me choose which things to spend more time on.)


Old Bogus said...

To me, this is a strange question. I don't recall a "threshold"; geology just "was". For a Southern Baptist kid, I always accepted the idea of geologic time.

What do those who need a "threshold" have before the epiphany?

Kim said...

The articles I read described a "threshold concept" as something which was difficult to grasp, which transformed the way a student approached the subject, and which was unforgettable after it was learned. So it isn't just an epiphany - it's something that students can get stuck on.

Geologic time never seemed like that big of a deal for me. However, I remember struggling to make sense of my first structural geology lab, making an orthographic projection. It was a problem that went beyond following instructions - I couldn't picture what I was doing. And then when it started making sense, suddenly a lot of other things made sense, too.

I suspect that there may be a lot of different places where people get stuck. I know a lot of professional geologists who will quietly (or not-so-quietly) talk about how much they hated mineralogy or structural geology, for instance.