Successful curriculum development and evaluation of group work in an introductory Mineralogy laboratory

Jacqueline Dohaney*, Erik Brogt, Ben Kennedy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Mineralogy is a core topic for tertiary geoscience programs worldwide. We report on the use of laboratory group work as an effective and integral part of a new introductory mineralogy curriculum at the University of British Columbia. The new laboratory curriculum was developed by incorporating student feedback with evidence-based pedagogies. These pedagogies include (1) learning goal-based restructuring of content, (2) use of applied topics (e.g., economic mineralogy) and custom projects to promote student engagement, and (3) use of group work and group assessment in order to provide students with opportunities for peer-supported learning and meaningful feedback from teaching assistants (TAs). The new curriculum was evaluated by using a pre- and posttest system and anonymous student surveys in the 2008 and 2009 fall terms. The pre- and posttest results indicate that groups performed better than did individual students, with groups of three and four showing the most positive effects, albeit in different ways. In addition, successful collaboration within groups led to an overall improvement in student performance over the term, with most groups showing an overall larger "success" in the posttest than in the pretest, and the range in student scores within groups getting smaller (by members benefiting from group peer education). Student surveys showed student satisfaction with the new laboratory curriculum and the use of group work and group assessment. Future improvements include the use of a validated instrument in order better understand learning gains and better use or training of TAs to encourage and maintain positive group dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-33
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • collaboration
  • curriculum development
  • group size
  • group work
  • lab
  • mineralogy


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