Hi Scott,

Oops, I just sent you an email, then as I got farther down the email I'm catching up on and I found this one....I check out the demongraphics and questionnaire online.....


At 11:17 AM 2/6/2008, you wrote:
Dear Colleagues:

Many of you received an email soliciting comments to and participation in our research project that will look at how plate tectonics figures are interpreted by students. (The original email is provided, below.) Two issues have been brought to our attention regarding our initial request for your assistance:

1) I've received a few inquires asking for clarifications regarding who can participate in this phase of the project. For example, can high school students, university students, or international students participate? We are unable to include any participants other than those currently approved in our Institutional Review Board (IRB) application. That is, at this stage, we can only include adult students at our campus and professionals in the community (such as anyone on the GEOED-RESEARCH mailing list). We are planning to broaden our scope to include national and international students during the next phase.

2) The attachments to the original email caused it to be kicked back from some people's in-boxes - I apologize for sending such a large attachment. The questionnaires and demographic survey are now available on-line. They can be downloaded from Julie Libarkin's web page: http://www.msu.edu/~libarkin/. Please send me an email if you have any questions.

Thanks for all of the early interest!



original email -

Dear Colleague:

We are interested in studying how well plate tectonic figures commonly used in geology courses communicate the main concepts of plate tectonics to novices. We would like to investigate if students can identify where melting occurs, appreciate the pseudo-steady-state conditions inherent to many plate tectonic illustrations, and reason through how the image would look in the past and in the future. We will compare responses of non-majors who have been exposed to the theory of plate tectonics, Earth Science majors, graduate students, college faculty, high school teachers, and other experts along an expert - novice continuum.

To help us validate our questionnaire, we are sending this email to ask for reviews and comments as to the appropriateness and effectiveness of our questions at addressing student understanding. We are also looking for college faculty, high school teachers, or other experts who would be interested in completing the questionnaires as participants in our study.

All comments can be emailed to [log in to unmask].

If you would like to participate in the study, please print out and complete the demographic survey and one of the three questionnaires. You will need to mail your completed questionnaire and survey to Scott Clark at:

Scott Clark
206 Natural Sciences Bldg.
Department of Geological Sciences
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

All participation will be kept strictly confidential, and all responses will remain anonymous. By completing the questionnaire, you are agreeing that your responses can be used in publications and presentations related to this research. To facilitate anonymity and encourage participation, responses will be de-identified by a staff member of the Center for Research on College Science Teaching and Learning (CRCSTL) at Michigan State University before the research team views the results. We estimate that the questionnaire will take about 15 minutes to complete. This project has received IRB approval for use of human subjects in research.

Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions for this project. We look forward to working with you and appreciate your assistance!


Scott Clark, Research Associate
Department of Geological Sciences
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
[EMAIL: [log in to unmask]]
[phone (517) 353-4524]

Julie Libarkin, Assistant Professor
Department of Geological Sciences & Division of Science and Mathematics Education
Michigan State University
[EMAIL: [log in to unmask]]
[phone (517) 355-8369]

David L. Kimbrough, PhD RG
Undergraduate Advisior
Department of Geological Sciences
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego State University, San Diego CA 92182-1020
phone: (619) 594-1385,   fax: (619) 594-4372  
[log in to unmask]   http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~dkimbrou/