Supporting the Transition from Geoscience Student to Researcher Through Classroom Investigations Using Remotely Operable Analytical Instruments

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Bringing research training activities into the classroom through course-related uses of research instrumentation is a widely used strategy for improving student engagement, retention, and learning in undergraduate science courses. However, such strategies present a range of logistical challenges in terms of instrument access for a large number of students, the time commitment involved in learning instrument use, and in ensuring a sufficient level of exposure for students such that the experience can actually help develop key technical and intellectual skills. I have sought to minimize the logistical challenges of classroom instrument use through integrating remotely operable instruments (electron microprobe and scanning electron microscope) into course activities in a junior-level geology majors course and an introductory-level science course for non-majors. Our outcomes to date point to increased student interest in course materials and activities due to their hands-on instrumentation experiences. Geology majors showed an increased willingness to undertake and complete mentored undergraduate research projects. Non-majors showed no greater inclination to undertake further science courses and research experiences, an outcome that may be partly related to the constraints of their selected degree curricula.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Geoscience Research and Education, v. 20, p. 149-162