Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Science Education (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences

Advisor 1

Amy Lark

Committee Member 1

Kedmon Hungwe

Committee Member 2

Bradley Baltensperger


The Finger Lakes area has some of the most unique geologic features in New York State including much evidence of the impact that glaciers have had on this environment. The area is rich in Devonian and Silurian era fossils, drumlins, U-shaped valleys, and glacial erratics. With all of this evidence it is easy to imagine a class of students outside in the environment examining these structures and developing conclusions about their origin. However, students in the Finger Lakes area are generally taught about the geology of the area using traditional techniques utilizing technology and diagrams in the classroom. In this study, students were separated into a control group and an experimental group. The control group was exposed to traditional teaching methods including a PowerPoint presentation and a laboratory activity on the football field. The experimental group was exposed to a field study that included “EarthCache” type assignments where students are asked to use Global Positioning Systems to find evidence of past geologic events and use it to answer questions. Scores on a pre- and posttest using the “art of the sentence” techniques found in Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion were compared for overall growth of knowledge. Students in both groups increased the scores, as expected. However, students in the experimental group increased their scores more than the control group in every concept that was focused on in this study, and increased 15% higher overall when compared to the growth of the control group students. The students who experienced the field study were more sophisticated with their usage of evidence to support their claims made in the posttest when compared to the control group’s posttest usage of evidence, posting over a 35% score increase. Students that experienced the field study showed a higher understanding of the concepts focused on in this study. Therefore, this study provides evidence that a field study designed with a specific purpose, such as an EarthCache, can provide students with a deeper understanding of the geology of the Finger Lakes area. This deeper understanding can be attributed to the personal connection students had made with the environment while being driven by their natural curiosity of the natural world.