Conceptual understanding of geological concepts by students with visual impairements

Tiffany A. Wild, Margilee P. Hilson, Kathleen M. Farrand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Eighteen middle and high school students with visual impairments participated in a weeklong field-based geology summer camp. This paper reports the curriculum, strategies, and what the students learned about Earth science by climbing in and out of caves, collecting fossils, exploring a bog, and interacting with experts in the field. Students were encouraged to be active learners outside of their normal comfort zone to develop understandings about geology through reading the landscape. Initially, few of the students held scientifically accurate Earth science concepts, but by the end of the week most had developed a medley of scientific and unique inaccurate understandings that have never been documented before. A week of intensive first-hand experiences was sufficient for the students to acquire some scientific knowledge, but not enough to eliminate inaccurate understandings. The duality of their science understandings suggests that additional informal experiences paired with formal classroom instruction will be necessary to clarify concepts. Some previously undocumented misconceptions were exhibited by the students, such as water pressure influencing plate tectonics and lifecycles of animals impacting Earth systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-230
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Geosciences education
  • Informal science education
  • Visual impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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