Date of Award

Summer 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences

First Advisor

Dan Shepardson

Committee Chair

Dan Shepardson

Committee Member 1

Terry West

Committee Member 2

James McClure


This investigation used constructivist pedagogical methods within the framework of an introductory level undergraduate geoscience course to gauge both the changes in attitude and cognition of students. Pedagogy was modified in the laboratory setting, but maintained in the lecture setting and homework. Curriculum was also maintained in the lecture, but was changed in the laboratory to emphasize the large concepts and systems stressed in Earth Science Literacy Principles. Student understanding of these concepts and systems was strengthened by factual knowledge, but recall and memorization were not the goal of the laboratory instruction. The overall goal of the study was to build student understanding more effectively than in previous semesters such that the students would become Earth Science literate adults. ^ We hypothesized that a healthy comprehension of the connections between the human population and Earth's systems would lead to improved cognition and attitude toward Earth Science. This was tested using pre- and post-testing of attitudes via an anonymous survey on the first and last days of the laboratory, student responses to the end-of-course evaluations, and student performance on early-semester and late-semester content testing. The results support the hypotheses.