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Qualitative Analysis of College Students' Ideas about the Earth: Interviews and Open-Ended Questionnaires
NOTE: This is a large file, 165.8 mb in size! This article describes a study in which students' conceptual understanding about the Earth was examined. In the study, students enrolled in introductory science courses at four institutions, completed open-ended questionnaires, and participated in interviews. The institutions consisted of a small private university, two large state schools, and one small public liberal arts college. Students were probed on a variety of topics related to the Earth's crust and interior, and to geologic time. Analysis of questionnaire and interview responses indicates that students hold a number of non-scientific ideas about the Earth. Additionally, students apply a range of ontological categories to geologic phenomena, with significant implications for teaching geosciences from a systems perspective.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Graduate / Professional
Type of resource:
  • Text:
    • Journal article
  • Educational theory and practice
  • Geological Sciences:
    • Geologic time
    • Geology
Technical requirements:
Adobe Acrobat reader
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
We encourage the reuse and dissemination of the material on this site for educational, noncommercial purposes as long as attribution is retained.
DLESE Catalog ID: EVAL-TLKT-000-000-000-155
Related resources:
This resource is referenced by
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT)
Journal of Geoscience Education (JGE)

Author: Julie C. Libarkin
Department of Geological Sciences
Ohio University

Author: Steven W. Anderson
Science Department
Black Hills State University

Author: Julie Dahl
Science Department
Black Hills State University

Author: Meredith Beilfuss
College of Education
Indiana University

Author: William Boone
College of Education
Indiana University