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Field Behavior & Cognition

A study to test basic assumptions about the nature of geoscience expertise, the importance of field training, and the role of cognition and behavior in the development of mapping skills

Note: Additions to these pages are ongoing.

Expert-novice continuum research into geoscientists’ cognitive processes. We are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the similarities and differences between non-scientists and geoscientists, particularly in how the perceive, recognize, and interpret geological phenomena. A project to unravel the nature of geoscience expertise was funded through NSF’s Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering (REESE) program. This project is a collaboration between Western Michigan University and MSU geoscientists, a geographer, and a cognitive psychologist (MSU Co-PI Zach Hambrick). We are investigating novice and expert behavior and cognition in the field, as well as performance on standard and geoscience-specific cognitive tests. My graduate students and I are leading the laboratory component of this study, investigating working memory function and characteristics. Thus far, we have collected data from 40 subjects in the lab and from 29 subjects during a field season in Montana. We are also assisting the WMU team with collection and analysis of field data.