Impact of Student Produced Audio Narrative (SPAN) assignments on students’ perceptions and attitudes toward science in introductory geoscience courses

E. R. Kraal, G. Sirrakos, L. Guertin, A. Epstein, G. Simmens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An important challenge for the geoscience community is developing engaging, accessible, and effective experiences within introductory courses, which are often gateways to geoscience majors. This study evaluates low-barrier-to-entry and flexible assignments focused on a pedagogical innovation: faculty replaced one of their usual course components (research paper, lab, etc.) with a Student-Produced Audio Narrative (SPAN) assignment. SPAN assignments require students to engage with geoscience content by telling a scientific story using simple audio-recording and production techniques. The hypothesis is that SPAN assignments will increase students’ personal connection to geoscience course content. The pilot study included 8 faculty and 693 students across a range of institution types, course structures, class sizes, and content topics during the control and implementation semesters. The study evaluated student responses to SPAN assignments both quantitatively, using a pre/post survey, and qualitatively, using semi-structured interviews. Survey results show that students experienced positive changes in the categories of personal relevance, sense of curricular innovation, and future intentions to study science. Interview results indicate that much of the increased senses of innovation and personal relevance came from the creativity and choice the students experienced during the SPAN assignment. Taken together, these results indicate that SPAN assignments are innovative to students and effective pedagogical tools that can positively change students’ perceptions of their learning environment and attitudes toward science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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