post-course attitudes (Vislova et al., 2010). On the pre-test, females reported lower self-efficacy and higher test anxiety than males. On the post-test, females reported lower likelihood of engaging in future geoscience courses, despite earning similar course grades as their male peers. In a different study, Liben, Kastens, and Christensen (2011) found that female undergraduates’ self-reported confidence in the quality of their performance on strike-and-dip and direction tasks was lower than their actual performance or their general spatial ability.

Learning in the field setting, which is an integral part of geoscience education, also has a strong affective component. Fieldwork can engage a wide spectrum of students in learning, in part because of the social interaction it entails (Boyle et al., 2007; Fuller et al., 2006; Maguire, 1998; Marques, Praia, and Kempa, 2003; Stokes and Boyle, 2009). Social aspects of learning in the field include heightened interpersonal interactions, building friendships, and reducing social barriers (Crompton and Sellar, 1981; Fuller et al., 2006; Fuller, Gaskin, and Scott, 2003; Kempa and Orion, 1996; Kern and Carpenter, 1984; Tal, 2001). Well-designed field experiences are seen as an effective means to recruit students to Earth science majors (Karabinos, Stoll, and Fox, 1992; Kern and Carpenter, 1984, 1986; Manner, 1995; McKenzie, Utgard, and Lisowski, 1986; Salter, 2001) and to introduce nontraditional students to the geosciences (Elkins, Elkins, and Hemmings, 2008; Gawel and Greengrove, 2005; Semken, 2005). In addition, some studies have shown that student attitudes toward the geosciences—and indeed, science in general—become increasingly positive as a result of fieldwork (Huntoon, Bluth, and Kennedy, 2001; Stokes and Boyle, 2009), perhaps because students view learning in the field as more interesting than learning in other contexts (Maguire, 1998; Stokes and Boyle, 2009).

Directions for Future Research on the Affective Domain

To date, much DBER has treated cognitive and affective outcomes as distinct “variables.” Future DBER on the affective domain should avoid this dichotomy and recognize the interdependence of affect and cognitive outcomes.

Instructors and researchers would benefit from a greater understanding of the attitudes and beliefs that are the most salient to learning science and engineering, including the role of cultural and social factors and potential differences among different groups of students (e.g., Brandriet et al., 2011). Cognitive science can help DBER scholars to clarify distinctions in theories of affect as they apply to student learning. Such distinctions are useful because they offer new ways to think about undergraduate science education. To that end, research on the affective dimensions of K-12 science learning (e.g., Simpson et al., 1994) also might be applied to DBER.

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