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


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
Michigan State University
[EMAIL: [log in to unmask]]
[phone (517) 355-8369]