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The use of analogies of wood blocks floating in water are concrete examples students can use to infer similar processes in the abstract principle of isostasy. In preparation for the activity, students will participate in an online discussion of isostasy in order to resolve points of confusion. To actively engage students to develop and understanding of isostasy, they will then complete the online tutorial in a self-paced manner with the ability to "work with" fellow students using the discussion board to pose and address questions about the activity. The tutorial prompts students to transfer what they observe in the analogies to predicting variations in Earth's surface elevations that can be linked to variations in material properties, erosion, and mountain building. The tutorial will be followed by a follow-up discussion as a formative assessment with questions to evaluate their understanding of isostasy. Exam questions will then be used as a summative assessment tool. After completing this exercise, it is an expectation that students will be able to explain the role of isostasy as the reason why continents have a higher elevation than ocean floors, an outcome listed for the course. Teaching Tips Adaptations that allow this activity to be successful in an online environment If a student does not select the correct answer to certain questions, they are redirected to re-evaluate the basic concepts to help them in their understanding of where/how they may have incorrectly selected their answers. Elements of this activity that are most effective The student's ability to make predictions of responses based on their understanding of isostasy and to explain their choices. Experiences of using a similar in-class activity exploring isostasy with analogies in face-to-face classes indicate students ability to explain their reasoning for their predictions gives them confidence of their understanding of isostasy. Recommendations for other faculty adapting this activity to their own course: This basic activity can be adapted for use in small or large face-to-face classes as a short online tutorial or homework. Clicker questions can be used as a follow up to evaluate student understanding.
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