J2.3 The Use of Audience Response Devices and Social Media in Introductory Earth Science Courses

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 11:30 AM
Room 353 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Mario Majcen, California University of Pennsylvania, California, PA

The purpose of this paper is to introduce experiences in introducing the use of audience response devices (“clickers”) and social media in an introductory Earth science course at California University of Pennsylvania. At California University of Pennsylvania, the Introduction to Earth Science is one of the most popular general education courses that satisfy the laboratory course, and natural science course requirements. While there are many benefits of fact that the interest for the course is high, the high enrolment also creates obstacles to efficient classroom delivery, in both lecture and laboratory.

The motivation to introduce “clickers” was twofold. The main goal was to increase student participation in classroom discussions, but also to provide the instructor with instantaneous feedback from students during lecture delivery. Introduction of social media to the learning process can be summarized as following. We chose three social media sites: Twitter, Facebook and Google+. We chose not to include our university's learning management system, Desire 2 Learn, as information is not easily shared between social media and that platform. Next step was to define a mission statement of this project, and set rules of conduct. Also, a grading policy was developed in such a way to encourage and reward student participation.

The introduction of “clickers” and the social media use in Introduction to Earth Science course resulted in increased student performance, as measured be median grade in the course. Also, an qualitative analysis of student responses given in an anonymous survey supports the benefits of introducing these teaching methodologies in introductory Earth science courses. In the future, we hope to explore different applications for mobile devices and their introduction in such courses. We see these results just as a starting point for a broader discussion on enhancing teaching of introductory Earth science courses in higher education.

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