Funds requested in this proposal will be used to develop, evaluate, and disseminate three components of an introductory earth science multimedia laboratory that is targeted for use by pre-service and in-service teachers. The three components are: 1) a CD-ROM based virtual course including exercises based on the exceptional geologic exposures in five of Utah's National Parks and Monuments as well as hands-on exercises that can be performed anywhere and are intended to give users experience analyzing geologic processes and their products; 2) a course kit containing extensive lesson plans, key rock samples, relevant geologic and topographic maps, references from the technical and popular literature, and course evaluation materials; and 3) a video providing in depth information about the remote field sites and techniques used by students and researchers in the field to solve problems.
The multimedia laboratory will be designed to help secondary school earth science teacher's present information using an Earth System approach. The laboratory will include a series of open-ended questions that focus on problems that are currently being researched by the Geoscience community. The questions will be chosen to encourage development of problem solving skills and the ability to integrate information from a variety of sources. Technical skills and theoretical concepts will be presented in the laboratory only as necessary to solve the problems. Quantitative and qualitative assessment vehicles, including diagnostic learning logs, pre-test/post-test attitude surveys and an instrument designed to measure higher-order cognition will be used by students and teachers who participate in the project to determine the materials success at teaching basic geologic concepts.
During the first year of the project the three components will be developed. In the second year, the materials will be tested and assessed during the academic year by undergraduate students (including pre-service teachers) and in-service teachers recruited from the local area. The components of the multimedia laboratory will be modified in response to participants' and our own evaluations. During the summer of the second year the course materials will be tested on secondary school students from underrepresented minority groups (women, African American and Native American) that visit the University as part of an existing Summer Youth Program designed to increase minority enrollment. This program allows access to a wide variety of students to participate in assessment of the materials, and will allow the PIs to investigate the impact of different teaching methods and aids on students from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds, as well as both genders. The components of the multimedia laboratory will again be modified as suggested by the participants in and instructors of these courses. During the third year, in-service teachers who participated during the second year will test the multimedia laboratory's effectiveness in their own classrooms. Final modifications to the components and production of the multimedia laboratory will be made at this time, and the laboratory will be made publicly available at the end of the third year.