How a Geoscientist’s Study of Temporal Patterns Led to Discoveries about Learning, Reasoning, and Metacognitive Self-Assessment

Dr. Ed Nuhfer, Professor of Geoscience, Director of Faculty Development and Director of Academic Assessment (retired), Humboldt State University is a geoscientist with a long experience in faculty professional development and research on student learning.

Join Dr. Nuhfer as he discusses How a Geoscientist’s Study of Temporal Patterns Led to Discoveries about Learning, Reasoning, and Metacognitive Self-Assessment.

102 Science I, Friday 24 January, 2020 at 4:10 PM. Reception at 3:30 PM in 257 Science I

Dr. Nuhfer’s study started with life-changing experiences on a sabbatical spent in 1988-89 in Colorado working with a paleoclimatic research team at the USGS, experiencing faculty development for the first time at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and attending a workshop on fractals in geology held at the Colorado School of Mines. Subsequently, these experiences melded together to study the nature of change-through time, led to developing a second career in faculty development, and to research that sprung from recognizing that our brain neurology is fractal, so our learning, our intellectual development, and behavior all have fractal qualities. Understanding these qualities helps us to develop better teaching and learning strategies and helps us to understand ourselves better (a quality that distinguishes education from training).

This talk will focus on the relationship between fractals and between two human qualities: 1) affective feelings of self-assessed competence and 2) actual cognitive competence. The topic of cognitive competence tested is the understanding of science as a way of knowing. We measure this with a validated instrument, the Science Literacy Concept Inventory (SLCI). We measure self-assessed competencies by global responses to single questions and granular responses to validated 25-item knowledge surveys. (Knowledge surveys came out of geoscience education.)

Many Iowa State University students have been participants, and the database now consists of about 26,000 SLCI participants and around 6000 paired measures of those who have taken the paired measures of confidence-competence. The findings have upset 20 years of peer-reviewed literature in behavioral science on self-assessment (Dunning-Kruger Effect) and reveal new ways to use such paired measures to understand the effects of differential privilege across varied ethnic groups and to assess quality across varied kinds of institutions of higher education.


Relevant peer-reviewed references underlying this presentation: