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How Glaciers Function and How They Create Landforms: Testing the Effectiveness of Fieldwork on Students’ Mental Models—A Case Study from the Sanabria Lake (NW Spain)

1
Department of Mathematics Education and Experimental Sciences Education, University of Salamanca, 37008 Salamanca, Spain
2
Department of Geography, University of Salamanca, 37008 Salamanca, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geosciences 2019, 9(5), 238; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9050238
Received: 13 April 2019 / Revised: 17 May 2019 / Accepted: 21 May 2019 / Published: 23 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Educating for Geoscience)
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Abstract

This paper analyzes the impact of fieldwork on the development of students’ mental models concerning glaciers and their effects on the landscape. Data were collected by means of an open-ended questionnaire that was administered to 279 pre-service teachers before and after an educational field trip, which analyzed its impact on short-term and long-term outcomes. In general, students’ mental models about how glaciers function and how they create landforms are relatively simplistic and incomplete. Students are unaware of the major erosional properties associated with glaciers and many of them do not specify that glaciers are bodies of ice that have a tendency to move down slope. The analysis of the data yielded four mental model categories. Fieldwork influenced the short-term effects on mental model development even though its positive impact decreases over time. Mental models including scientific views were only found in the post-instruction group. On the other hand, the pre-instruction group was strongly influenced by a catastrophic event that occurred in the region in 1959 (the Ribadelago flooding), which interferes with students’ mental reasoning on the formation of landscape features. This way of thinking is reinforced and/or mixed with a religious myth (Villaverde de Lucerna legend), which also invokes a catastrophic origin of the lake. In this case, this includes mystic flooding. View Full-Text
Keywords: fieldwork; mental model; glaciers; mental representation; alternative conceptions; misconceptions; field trip; surficial processes; geosciences education; geography education fieldwork; mental model; glaciers; mental representation; alternative conceptions; misconceptions; field trip; surficial processes; geosciences education; geography education
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Corrochano, D.; Gómez-Gonçalves, A. How Glaciers Function and How They Create Landforms: Testing the Effectiveness of Fieldwork on Students’ Mental Models—A Case Study from the Sanabria Lake (NW Spain). Geosciences 2019, 9, 238.

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