Integrative mapping of global-scale processes and patterns on “imaginary Earth” continental geometries: A teaching tool in an Earth History course

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Integrative mapping of global-scale processes and patterns on “imaginary Earth” continental geometries: A teaching tool in an Earth History course

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Title: Integrative mapping of global-scale processes and patterns on “imaginary Earth” continental geometries: A teaching tool in an Earth History course
Author: Sunderlin, David
Abstract: The complexity and interrelatedness of aspects of the geosciences is an important concept to convey in an undergraduate geoscience curriculum. A synthesis capstone project has served to integrate patternbased learning of an introductory Earth History course into an active and process-based exercise in hypothesis production. In this exercise, students are given (1) an imaginary global continental configuration and (2) a general categorization of the global climate. Students then work through cause/ effect relationships in Earth processes and hypothesize global biotic and abiotic patterns to be mapped upon the imaginary continental framework. Presentation and discussion of each student’s imaginary earth and his/her interpretation of the various mappable parameters engages students in each other’s reasoning and creative thought processes while promoting group learning and increasing science communication skills. Examination of the evidence and procedures used in the retrodiction of actual global paleogeographic scenarios is then placed in the context of this project. In practice, students have responded enthusiastically to the opportunity to develop geographic interpretations of an imaginary paleogeographic framework using their understanding of modern Earth systems. Upon exit evaluation, greater than 85% of the students taking part in the exercise felt more confident in their ability to hypothesize patterns from process.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10385/591
Date: 2009-01

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