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Students in nine large (n=160), introductory, undergraduate, earth science classes manipulated physical models to enhance their conceptual learning. During each model activity, students worked within predetermined groups to make observations that emphasized key concepts and challenged inaccurate student conceptions of the target phenomenon. Data from student interviews and classroom observations indicated that the students believed that manipulating the models increased their attentiveness in class and provided a visual aid that they could later recall on the exam. Classroom observations indicated that students often used the models to explain the concepts to their peers, and also suggested that group dynamics may have contributed to the success of this pedagogy.
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