Article

Fostering knowledge integration in geoscience education

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Abstract

Knowledge integration involves pulling together ideas and information into a coherent framework such that new ideas can be linked into already established ideas, and groups of ideas can be mobilized for solving problems, answering questions, or understanding observations. Geoscientists are called on to integrate information from many different modes of inquiry, across different cultural and scientifi c traditions, in the face of incomplete evidence and in support of ill-structured problems. This paper explores fi ve strategies to foster knowledge integration through geoscience education: three organizational schemas for content, plus two integrative practices. These are (1) integrate around a locale of signifi cance to students, (2) integrate around a societally important problem, (3) integrate around a suite of "big ideas," (4) integrate using visual representations, and (5) integrate using physical and computer models. For each strategy, we describe examples of its use in geoscience education, critique advantages and potential disadvantages, and suggest questions for future research. We conclude with a thought experiment envisioning the nodes and linkages in hypothetical mental concept maps of students educated with each of these fi ve strategies, seeking to improve on a fragmented mental map of isolated nodes and weak linkages.

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