Learning in Geosciences

On Thursday, I went down to Birmingham for a conference about learning in geoscience. It was primarily aimed at undergraduate students. Many of the challenges are the same as those we experience when we run our geology A-level sessions: how much previous knowledge to expect, how to best explain things and different learning styles.

Students using the collection to reconstruct past environments

The first talk in the morning session outlined research into the educational background of undergraduates and how this affects their understanding of geology. It seemed to confirm many of the things you might expect and served as a reminder of the range of abilities. We were then given a demonstration of 3D mapping software being promoted by the British Geological Survey. It was very impressive and based on vast amounts of information, but is still being developed. The final talk was based on the various interpretations of seismic sections.

After a demonstration of Birmingham University’s Earth Imaging Lab, we were given an interesting talk about research into different approaches to mapping from novice to professional. It was fascinating to see the range of approaches and their relative successes. It does seem that when understanding special awareness problems, different things work for different people. It is interesting to try and get a sense of what it is possible to teach people.

The afternoon session began with an interesting talk about developing Gigapan web-based resources for students with disabilities doing fieldwork. The next talk detailed a case study using hand held computers in student led field trips at Plymouth University. It is really interesting to see the potential for these technologies for all students.

It was great to meet other colleagues in the sector and find out what’s going on.


One Response

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