James H. Wandersee

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States

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Publications (67)95.39 Total impact

  • Renee M. Clary · James H. Wandersee
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    ABSTRACT: In many science classes, students encounter 'final form' science (Duschl 1990, 1994) in which scientific knowledge is presented as a rhetoric of conclusions (Schwab 1962). Incorporation of the history of science in modern science classrooms combats this false image of linear science progression. History of science can facilitate student understanding of the nature of science, pique student interest, and expose the cultural and societal constraints in which a science developed, revealing science's 'human side' (Matthews 1994). Carefully selected and researched episodes from the history of science illustrate that scientists sometimes chose incorrect hypotheses, misinterpreted data, and argued about data analysis. Our research documented that historical vignettes can hook students' attention, and past controversies can be used to develop students' analysis and argumentation skills before turning class attention to modern controversial issues. Historical graphics also have educational potential, as they reveal the progression of a science and offer alternative vehicles for data interpretation. In the United States, the National Science Education Standards (United States National Research Council 1996) acknowledged the importance of the History and Nature of Science by designating it as one of eight science content strands. However, the new United States Next Generation Science Standards (Achieve 2013) no longer include this strand, although the importance of the nature of science is still emphasized in the science framework (United States National Research Council 2012). Therefore, it is crucial that science education researchers continue to research and implement the history of science via interdisciplinary approaches to ensure its inclusion in United States science classrooms for better student understanding of the nature of science.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Earth sciences history: journal of the History of the Earth Sciences Society
  • Renee M. Clary · James H. Wandersee
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    ABSTRACT: Although modern geology uses both pictorial and graphical illustrations for conveying information and data presentation, early books in the discipline did not place such a reliance on graphics. This study investigated the numbers and types of graphics in 72 texts containing geological illustrations, which were considered to be representative (excluding works with solely mineralogical or paleontological illustrations), published during the formative years of geology (1788-1840) in ternis of Edward R. Tulle's principles of graphic design. The text graphics were analyzed in terms of the presence of proxy or inferred imagery, direct or keyed labeling, unnecessary embellishment, and their data density; and whether they exhibited multivariate properties, represented the small multiple format, or exhibited graphic modifications. Mixed methodology analyses revealed four stages in the evolution of geologic illustrations in the interval from 1788-1840: (1) early pictorial or proxy representations; (2) the introduction of labeled graphics, coinciding with the first geology textbooks; (3) 'grand' or elaborate illustration; and (4) a high graphic density. Although progress was made in graphical representation during the time period studied, statistical graphics were hardly ever used.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Earth sciences history: journal of the History of the Earth Sciences Society
  • Renee M. Clary · James H. Wandersee
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    ABSTRACT: US fossil parks are unique venues that bridge informal field collecting sites and protected national parks that prohibit any type of specimen acquisition. Typically, fossil parks provide collecting opportunities for visitors for a nominal fee, allowing them to retain a small number of fossils. Often administered by a museum or community, fossil parks promote sustainable development of geotourism, while providing visitors with a tangible reminder of their excursion into another geological time and paleoenvironment. Our in-depth research and analysis of US fossil park sites resulted in the identification of the venues and site characteristics that optimized visitors’ understanding of geological time, biodiversity, and evolution, in addition to providing a fun collecting excursion. Although we do not advocate that national parks and protected sites allow visitors to collect mementoes of their visit, we propose that our fossil park research can provide guidelines for effective interpretation and display of the geological features of these protected sites. While some fossil parks promoted appreciation of a geological site or past environment, not all of them facilitated visitor understanding. Effective interpretation can promote meaningful learning for visitors, leading to increased geological understanding and awareness of the site’s importance, and therefore, an acceptance of the need to preserve it.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2014 · Geoheritage
  • Renee M. Clary · James H. Wandersee
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    ABSTRACT: Our previous research demonstrated that semester-long discussions resulted in significant increases in online students’ climate literacy. When students expressed concern over the monotony of the semester-long topic, we extended our research to optimize climate change literacy with more efficient delivery. However, our second investigation revealed that 3-week units resulted in retention of nonscientific opinions. In this study, we implemented online climate change discussions in a 6-week unit. Students in online Earth history classes (N = 64) were randomly placed in discussion groups (N = 6), and assigned mandatory weekly discussions on climate change. For each weekly unit, two to three resources (e.g., graphs, scientific articles) and two multithreaded critical thinking questions were posted. For the final unit, student groups assembled a summary consensus, and completed a Climate Change Survey (N = 57) to assess content. Comparison with earlier results revealed that 2012 students’ climate change knowledge and opinions closely paralleled the semester-long discussion population, although there were slight differences. However, final examination essay responses hinted that transferability issues with climate change content knowledge existed outside the discussion realm. We propose 6-week discussions are sufficient for content climate literacy, but more research is needed into the role of group summaries and transferability.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2014 · Journal of Geoscience Education
  • Renee M. Clary · James H. Wandersee
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    ABSTRACT: Henry De la Beche (1796-1855) entered the scientific realm within an elite group of gentleman geologists. As a firm advocate of observation, De la Beche's philosophy of science involved the collection of fects, from which satisfactory theories or solutions to geological problems could only arise after accumulated observations were compiled. He authored many texts, but insisted that he recorded only fects and did not support particular theories, which often relied on scant observation. When De la Beche's finances floundered, his persistence at procuring government support for his mapping projects resulted in his eventual appointment (1835) as director of what would become the British Geological Survey. As a government scientist, De la Beche maintained a staunch advocacy of observation. He used his position to promote field work, and ensured quality in the deliberate recording of accurate information. He provided clear instructions to local survey directors, and advocated a "general mode of observing and recording fects" for "systematic investigations and uniformity of results" (1845). His methods guaranteed that facts, and not selective interpretations, would be available for those who needed them. He insisted that utilitarian geological products, such as survey maps and mining records, were consistent and of high quality. He also promoted the importance of these products-and the field work that produced them-within the elite societies of which he remained a member. Through his government position, De la Beche successfully advocated for public displays of facts and collections, and largely through his efforts the Museum of Practical Geology, the School of Mines, and the Mining Record Office were established. Therefore, De la Beche's emphasis of observation over theory had far-reaching impact in the emerging Victorian professionalization of science. Although he lost personal funding and could not sustain only an elite participation in the emerging geological discipline, his government position provided a powerful platform from which he was able to teach, systematize, and institutionalize field-based geological observation. De la Beche's success is measured through the establishment of feet repositories in Great Britain, and also through the impact that surveyors who studied his field methods brought to other countries.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2014 · Earth sciences history: journal of the History of the Earth Sciences Society
  • R.M. Clary · J.L. Sumrall · J.C. Rodgers III · J.H. Wandersee
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    ABSTRACT: The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill greatly affected the Gulf Coast, and the news media reported information to wide audiences. Students enrolled in an online Environmental Geoscience course in fall 2010 voluntarily participated in a Gulf oil spill survey. More than 92% of the students (N = 77; 83 total enrollment), who were primarily in-service teachers, participated. The 24-question survey probed students' demographics, current geographic locations, affinity with the Gulf, oil spill knowledge, and emotions resulting from the incident. We sought to determine whether students with Gulf Coast geographic affinity (one aspect of Gulf sense of place) would have stronger reactions, have greater knowledge, and exhibit more behavioral changes than their noncoast peers. Multivariate analysis of variance revealed students with a geographic association with the Gulf Coast had stronger interest and emotional responses than did noncoast students. However, students with a Gulf affiliation did not score statistically higher on their knowledge of the spill, exhibit significantly different behavioral changes, or have stronger plans to incorporate the spill within their K-12 classrooms. Student age had no significant effect on any category. We concluded that current events that tap into students' affiliations and senses of place may offer affective portals through which instruction can be optimized, but more research is needed to elucidate media effects and competing variables.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2013 · Journal of Geoscience Education
  • R.M. Clary · J.H. Wandersee
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    ABSTRACT: The focus of this chapter is an exploration of integrated geology and biology learning-from past to present. The chapter explains why active and integrated geological and biological learning became the lodestar of the authors' decade-long EarthScholars Research Group's research program. The authors argue that using an active and integrated geobiological pedagogical approach when teaching geology or biology provides natural opportunities for students to learn and do authentic scientific inquiry in a manner similar to how contemporary scientists conduct their work. The authors further review research that concerns the active, integrated geobiological science learning approach-in middle school, secondary, and college classrooms, laboratories, and field studies. The authors favor a gradual course transition to this pedagogy, while highlighting the advantages of adopting such an approach-both for teachers and students. Finally, the authors conclude the chapter with challenges and future directions in the design of active, integrated geobiological science learning environments.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2013
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    Renee M. Clary · James H. Wandersee

    Preview · Chapter · Feb 2012
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    ABSTRACT: Karpicke and Blunt (Reports, 11 February 2011, p. 772) reported that retrieval practice produces greater gains in learning than elaborative studying with concept mapping and concluded that this strategy is a powerful way to promote meaningful learning of complex concepts commonly found in science education. We question their findings on methodological and epistemological grounds.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2011 · Science
  • Renee M. Clary · James H. Wandersee
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    ABSTRACT: William Buckland (1784–1846) first identified and scientifically studied coprolites in the early 1820s. Although some of his contemporaries did not look favorably upon him or his research, Buckland's early experiments advanced paleoecology and taphonomy. Because our informal presentations with coprolites resulted in students' spirited reactions, we investigated whether coprolite introduction, accompanied with its history of science, had potential for meaningful learning in K-12 Earth Science classrooms. Practicing Earth Science teachers (N = 28) enrolled in an online paleontology course researched coprolites, identified potential student interest, and designed coprolite activities for their individual classrooms. Resulting projects were diverse and creative, and incorporated investigations into fossilization processes, paleoenvironments, food chains, and geologic time. In anonymous surveys, teachers indicated that their students' interest in coprolites is high. We propose inclusion of coprolites and their history in Earth Science classrooms as a portal to hook students' interest and as springboard to additional scientific topics.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2011
  • Renee M. Clary · James H. Wandersee
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    ABSTRACT: Unlike other informal sites, fossil parks provide visitors collecting opportunities that result in ownership of a small number of fossils. In 2003, we investigated the fi rst three identifi ed U.S. fossil parks at Hamburg, New York; Sylvania, Ohio; and Rockford, Iowa. Case study analyses determined the opportunities to learn geobiology at each site. Data collection proceeded through lived learning experiences, and included fi eld notes, photographic records, informal conversations with park participants, brochures, and on-site signage. Through constant comparative methods, six variable categories converged for fossil park development: (1) informative previsit Web site, (2) authentic collecting in situ, (3) authentic collecting tools, (4) accessibility, (5) fossil identifi cation, and (6) visitor education. These variables were optimized in a model of fossil park design. In 2005, fossil parks at Sharonville, Ohio, and Fossil, Oregon, were investigated in phase 2 of our study, and in 2006, our third case study researched fossil parks in Aurora, North Carolina, and Republic, Washington. Analysis of the seven U.S. fossil park data sets resulted in the emergence of key variables that affected the visitors' opportunities to learn geobiology concepts at fossil parks: (1) authenticity of experience, (2) age of fossils, (3) fossil-collection training and facilities, (4) availability of on-site paleontological mentors, (5) fossil identifi cation via signage and brochures, (6) site organization and wayfi nding signs, and (7) accessibility of site, including safety. The seven U.S. fossil parks were ranked against these variables according to their effectiveness as informal science education sites. We conclude that fossil parks can provide valuable informal geobiology education that can contribute to the public's geobiological literacy.
    No preview · Chapter · Mar 2011
  • James H. Wandersee · Joel J. Mintzes · Mary W. Arnaudin

    No preview · Article · Mar 2010
  • R.M. Clary · J.H. Wandersee
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    ABSTRACT: A science curriculum should emphasize the nature of science, and foster the development of scientific habits of mind within the student population. This is particularly important within science content courses designed for practicing teachers, who will teach the subject matter as well as model scientific methods within their own classrooms. Previous science educational research revealed that inquiry-based and active learning strategies in traditional classrooms can result in meaningful student learning, but the translation of these methods in online environments is far less researched. Therefore, we focused on science curriculum development in the online environment by which science content, the nature of science, and scientific habits of mind can be conveyed to practicing teachers. Through numerous semesters (N = 10) and a variety of online science courses (N = 6), our research demonstrated that online science curriculum development proceeds successfully through incorporation of SCALE. The online science curriculum should focus upon Self-directed autonomous activities, Community-based learning, both within an online environment and within the teachers' local areas, Active-learning strategies that move practicing teachers beyond the confines of the computer environment, and Local Environment incorporation for easy access and relevance to individual online learners. The SCALE method allows for interdisciplinary and integrated science curriculum in a variety of online science environments. The resultant content is consistent with the theory of human constructivism, which stresses that ?less is more,? and it emphasizes meaning over memorization, quality over quantity, and understanding over awareness. SCALE can be accomplished through autonomous informal activities utilizing teachers' local field sites, history of science investigations, online community discussions, and interdisciplinary topic portals for self-directed research and classroom implementation. Our mixed methodology research investigations indicate that more successful learning occurs within an online science SCALE curriculum. SCALE may also result in more positive teacher attitudes toward online science courses.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2010
  • Renee M. Clary · James H. Wandersee
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    ABSTRACT: Archive-based, historical research of materials produced during the Golden Age of Geology (1788–1840) uncovered scientific caricatures (SCs) which may serve as a unique form of knowledge representation for students today. SCs played important roles in the past, stimulating critical inquiry among early geologists and fueling debates that addressed key theoretical issues. When historical SCs were utilized in a large-enrollment college Earth History course, student response was positive. Therefore, we offered SCs as an optional assessment tool. Paired t-tests that compared individual students’ performances with the SC option, as well as without the SC option, showed a significant positive difference favoring scientific caricatures (α=0.05). Content analysis of anonymous student survey responses revealed three consistent findings: (a) students enjoyed expressing science content correctly but creatively through SCs, (b) development of SCs required deeper knowledge integration and understanding of the content than conventional test items, and (c) students appreciated having SC item options on their examinations, whether or not they took advantage of them. We think that incorporation of SCs during assessment may effectively expand the variety of methods for probing understanding, thereby increasing the mode validity of current geoscience tests.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2010 · Science & Education
  • R. M. Clary · J. H. Wandersee
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    ABSTRACT: The geosciences are very visual, as demonstrated by the illustration density of maps, graphs, photographs, and diagrams in introductory textbooks. As geoscience students progress, they are further exposed to advanced graphics, such as phase diagrams and subsurface seismic data visualizations. Photographs provide information from distant sites, while multivariate graphics supply a wealth of data for viewers to access. When used effectively, geology graphics have exceptional educational potential. However, geological graphic data are often presented in specialized formats, and are not easily interpreted by an uninformed viewer. In the Howe-Russell Geoscience Complex at Louisiana State University, there is a very large graphic (~ 30 ft x 6 ft) exhibited in a side hall, immediately off the main entrance hall. The graphic, divided into two obvious parts, displays in its lower section seismic data procured in the Gulf of Mexico, from near offshore Louisiana to the end of the continental shelf. The upper section of the graphic reveals drilling block information along the seismic line. Using Tufte's model of graphic excellence and Paivio's dual-coding theory, we analyzed the graphic in terms of data density, complexity, legibility, format, and multivariate presentation. We also observed viewers at the site on 5 occasions, and recorded their interactions with the graphic. This graphic can best be described as a Tufte ``super graphic.'' Its data are high in density and multivariate in nature. Various data sources are combined in a large format to provide a powerful example of a multitude of information within a convenient and condensed presentation. However, our analysis revealed that the graphic misses an opportunity to educate the non-geologist. The information and seismic ``language'' of the graphic is specific to the geology community, and the information is not interpreted for the lay viewer. The absence of title, descriptions, and symbol keys are detrimental. Terms are not defined. The absence of color keys and annotations is more likely to lead to an appreciation of graphic beauty, without concomitant scientific understanding. We further concluded that in its current location, constraints of space and reflective lighting prohibit the viewer from simultaneously accessing all subsurface data in a ``big picture'' view. The viewer is not able to fully comprehend the macro/micro aspects of the graphic design within the limited viewing space. The graphic is an example of geoscience education possibility, a possibility that is currently undermined and unrealized by lack of interpretation. Our analysis subsequently informed the development of a model to maximize the graphic's educational potential, which can be applied to similar geological super graphics for enhanced public scientific understanding. Our model includes interactive displays that apply the auditory-visual dual coding approach to learning. Notations and aural explanations for geological features should increase viewer understanding, and produce an effective informal educational display.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2009
  • Renee M. Clary · Robert F. Brzuszek · James H. Wandersee
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    ABSTRACT: Students in a Landscape Architecture Design 1 course (N = 25) at a research university in the southern US developed design solutions implementing geologic time for an informal education site. Those students who employed abstract metaphors for their designs (n = 8) were more successful than students who proceeded with a linear design construct. Pre- and posttest assessments using the Petrified Wood Survey and student-constructed timelines suggested that 1) 75% geoscience content knowledge is needed for successful design, and 2) relative understanding of Earth events and the barrenness of early Earth's landscape is also prerequisite for successful design implementation. Most revealing of students' cognitive processes were the concept statements and concept maps produced during the project. The concept statement forced students to address the project's requirements, take a position with their concept development of abstract metaphorical representation, and proceed with a final design solution. It appears that concept statements with accompanying concept maps facilitate student cognition by forcing student comprehension and application of geoscience content knowledge. We suggest that an inclusion of concept statements when teaching application of a complex Earth system or process may facilitate students' geoscience cognition in design and/or informal educational settings.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2009 · Journal of Geoscience Education
  • Renee M. Clary · James H. Wandersee
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    ABSTRACT: Amber is a fossil by itself, and can also contain plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. Some of these perfectly preserved specimens give scientists a convenient window to past environments, including the biology, ecology, geology, and chemistry of Earth's past. By using an interdisciplinary approach, we can demonstrate to students a more accurate representation of the scientific community, which does not work in isolation. (Contains 6 figures.)
    No preview · Article · Jan 2009
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    Renee M. Clary · James H. Wandersee
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    ABSTRACT: In June 2009, the U.S. Department of Education released a meta-analysis of online learning studies that detailed strong support for online learning. The authors of this report, however, cautioned that online students' increased interaction--as well as differences in curriculum and pedagogy--did not allow a direct comparison between online and traditional classrooms. Moreover, the positive learning benefits of online education examined in this report applied only to K-12 students. Can online education also provide an effective learning environment for teachers? In this article, the authors sought teachers' opinions on whether online classrooms provided opportunities for successful professional development, especially when the online courses were "science" content courses, and the methods for content delivery included active-learning strategies and informal education sites. Using research literature that documented best practices for content delivery, the authors designed their online science classrooms to include the integration of informal environments and assignments that would provide active learning and inquiry-based learning benefits. In their online courses, the authors sought to discover whether science instruction delivered through an online environment could help close the gap in teachers' knowledge of science. Through multiple semesters of their online science courses, the authors' surveys revealed that teachers enjoyed opportunities that (1) transported them beyond the confines of their computer environment; and (2) facilitated relationships with their online colleagues and local communities. From their research and the survey responses, the authors found that teachers are tremendously positive when discussing the value of the online environment for furthering their content knowledge in the subjects they teach.
    Preview · Article · Dec 2008
  • Renee M. Clary · James H. Wandersee
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    ABSTRACT: Henry T. De la Beche (1796–1855) began his geological career within an elite circle (Geological Society of London, 1817; FRS, 1819), collaborating with influential gentlemen geologists and publishing original research. When his independent income dwindled, De la Beche managed to secure governmental funding for his mapping projects. This led to recognition of the Geological Ordnance Survey (1835) with De la Beche as director. However, De la Beche’s most influential role emerged from his unique position of successfully bridging the privileged circle of gentlemen geologists and the working class of emerging professionals. Henry De la Beche advocated education and knowledge of the Earth for all social classes. He used his government influence to lobby for the establishment of facilities and organizations dedicated to geology’s growing professionalization and popularization. The Museum of Practical Geology, School of Mines, and Mining Records Office were founded largely through his efforts, and each included educational components. De la Beche believed that geological instruction should transcend social boundaries, and thus he was an early advocate for the instruction of lower classes. Henry De la Beche can be acknowledged as an early champion of geological literacy for the general population.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2008 · Science & Education
  • R.M. Clary · J.H. Wandersee
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    ABSTRACT: In a nationwide graduate paleontology class of teachers taught entirely online, students (N=36) were required to apply their content knowledge in a self-selected local field area through collection and identification of a small number of fossil specimens. As a secondary requirement, teachers were required to develop an educational activity for their own middle or secondary students using the specimens they procured. This informal field research replaced a traditional laboratory assignment and provided students with opportunities for local field work. Although modification of online interactions was required, students were able to successfully identify local field collection sites with instructor guidance and individualized communication. Students also successfully applied their knowledge through the development of activities for their own classrooms. Approximately 86% of students scored higher in the hands-on fieldwork activity than in previous traditional laboratory assignments. In an anonymous survey, students stated that the application exercise was not more difficult when assigned in an online format. Our exploratory study results indicate that autonomous geoscience fieldwork activities are possible in an online graduate course setting.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2008 · Journal of Geoscience Education

Publication Stats

1k Citations
95.39 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1990-2015
    • Louisiana State University
      Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States
  • 2007
    • Mississippi State University
      استارکویل، میسیسیپی, Mississippi, United States
  • 2005
    • University of Louisiana at Lafayette
      • Department of Geology
      Lafayette, Louisiana, United States
  • 1986-1988
    • Martin Luther College
      New Ulm, Minnesota, United States