The Effect of Using Inquiry and Multiple Representations on Introductory Geology Students' Conceptual Model Development of Coastal Eutrophication Academic Article uri icon


  • Collegiate introductory Earth science courses are frequently terminal science courses for non-science majors. As a result these courses, such as the introductory physical geology course in this research study, are the final opportunity Earth science instructors have to support and develop student learning in the sciences. The use of inquiry-based learning (IBL) and multiple representations (e.g., physical models and information technology) has been a call for reform in science education and may be a means to reach students in introductory courses. This research tested the pedagogical coupling of IBL and multiple representations to support introductory students' conceptual model development of the complex and dynamic Earth process, eutrophication, through the evaluation of student drawings and written reports. In this research, participants from nine laboratory sections were randomly placed into experimental (IBL and multiple representations style labs) and control (workbook style labs) groups. Statistical results indicated significant (p < 0.05) pre-post differences in the conceptual model drawings in only the experimental group, where student performance on the reports and drawings were significantly different (p < 0.01) between test groups. These results indicated that the use of IBL and multiple representations had a positive impact on introductory students' conceptual model development of eutrophication.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Geoscience Education

author list (cited authors)

  • McNeal, K. S., Miller, H. R., & Herbert, B. E.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • McNeal, Karen S||Miller, Heather R||Herbert, Bruce E

publication date

  • January 2008