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A Novel Approach to Teaching and Understanding Transformations of Matter in Dynamic Earth Systems by ProQuest

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The need to engage K-12 and post-secondary students in considering the Earth as a dynamic system requires explicit discussion of system characteristics. Fundamentally, dynamic systems involve the movement and change of matter, often through processes that are difficult to see and comprehend. We introduce a novel instructional method, termed Cause-MaP, designed to enhance non-science major undergraduates' understanding of complex Earth systems. Students are provided with a mechanism for explicitly following matter as it moves through the environment, and are encouraged to describe this movement both verbally, in response to a structured set of questions, and pictorially, in box-and-arrow diagrams. This approach raises awareness of the underlying causes for the dynamic nature of systems, and encourages reasoning, thoroughness, and transferability of skills. Preliminary data suggest that this method is effective with post-secondary students and we encourage adaptation of Cause-MaP to other courses at both the post-secondary and K-12 levels. A follow-up, more rigorous investigation of the impact of this approach on student learning will clarify the effectiveness of this instructional method. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

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