Assessment of a high school geological field course

Eric Morgan Ruckert



Fieldwork is supportive of students’ natural inquiry abilities. Educational research findings suggest that instructors can foster the growth of thinking skills and promote science literacy by incorporating active learning strategies (McConnel et al, 2003). Huntoon (2001) states that there is a need to determine optimal learning strategies and to document the procedure of assessing those optimal geoscience curricula. This study seeks to determine if Earth Space II, a high school geological field course, can increase students’ knowledge of selected educational objectives. This research also seeks to measure any impact Earth Space II has on students’ attitude towards science.

Assessment of the Earth Space II course objectives provided data on the impact of field courses on high school students’ scientific literacy, scientific inquiry skills, and understanding of selected course objectives. Knowledge assessment was done using a multiple choice format test, the Geoscience Concept Inventory, and an open-ended format essay test. Attitude assessment occurred by utilizing a preexisting science attitude survey.

Both knowledge assessments items showed a positive effect size from the pretest to the posttest. The essay exam effect size was 17 and the Geoscience Concept Inventory effect size was 0.18. A positive impact on students’ attitude toward science was observed by an increase in the overall mean Likert value from the pre-survey to the post-survey.