DBPapers
DOI: 10.5593/SGEM2014/B53/S22.091

STUDENT’S MENTAL MODELS ABOUT THE EFFECTS OF EARTHQUAKES ON SOILS AND BUILDINGS

S. Moutinho, R. Moura, C. Vasconcelos
Wednesday 1 October 2014 by Libadmin2014

References: 14th International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference SGEM 2014, www.sgem.org, SGEM2014 Conference Proceedings, ISBN 978-619-7105-19-3 / ISSN 1314-2704, June 19-25, 2014, Book 5, Vol. 3, 687-692 pp

ABSTRACT
Mental models are students’ representations of the real world based on their knowledge and understanding. In a meaningful learning it is essential to analyse students’ mental models and promote a reconstruction of scientific knowledge, by allowing them to become consistent with the scientific models. Having this in mind, we aimed to analyse undergraduate students’ mental models concerning the seismic effects on soils and buildings, before they learn these contents at the university. To collect the data we applied a questionnaire with several items. The questionnaire was answered by a convenient sample of 31 freshmen from an undergraduate degree in Geology, in a northern Portuguese university. The results show that, in the majority of the items, students recognized the seismic effects on soils and buildings. However, some of their mental models were inconsistent with the scientific model, highlighting the importance of diagnosing students’ mental models and their restructuring to promote a meaningful learning and scientific literacy.

Keywords: mental models, meaningful learning, earthquakes, seismology.