One diagram does not fit all: How undergraduate students interpret geologic rock patterns.
Eschenbrenner, Alecia C, 1993-
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This study investigates the question: how do students evaluate patterns out of geologic context? To investigate this concept, we removed square blocks of the patterns from a geologic diagram, created a survey, and asked undergraduate students to decide the relative age of geologic patterns. Students were also asked to rank the patterns from oldest to youngest and give a reason why they answered the way they did. There was total 69 participants; 25 Art, 24 Geology, and 20 Non-science/Non-art majors after removing incomplete responses or unqualified participants. Art students needed to be enrolled in ART102 or have completed it, Geology students needed to have completed GEOL325, and Non- science/Non-art needed less than 9 credits in science. Results showed that Geology students constructed a regressive sequence meaning they used their geology knowledge to arrange the patterns. Art students constructed a sequence of patterns from easiest to hardest to create in AutoCAD. Non-science/Non-art students were less conclusive but all responses related to everyday items. These findings support the prediction that prior knowledge affects the way students interpret science visuals. Teachers and professors should be prepared that their students have different backgrounds and may need to use diagrams that match their students' background knowledge.