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"Solid Earth" is a broad concept, representing processes at the surface of the Earth, as well as the subsurface all the way to the solid inner core. Fields of study encompassed in this domain include geomorphology, historical geology, mineralogy, petrology, stratigraphy, structural geology – all topics that are touched upon in introductory coursework, and constitute the core of an undergraduate geology curriculum. Combined with cognate coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics, the conceptual load in the Solid Earth curriculum is significant. The risks of poor understanding of solid Earth concepts are non-trivial, ranging from the economic costs of commodities and energy to the potentially fatal impact of hazards from mass-wasting, flooding, volcanic activity, and earthquakes. As a result, undergraduate geoscience studies are faced with two main problems: (a) the determination of students' solid Earth misconceptions when they participate in geoscience coursework, including their persistence and the means to address them, and (b) the determination of optimal learning progressions in geoscience instruction to accommodate preparation of geoscience professionals and Earth science teachers, as well as general education students. In this theme chapter, these two grand challenges are explored and recommended strategies are proposed to address them.
Pyle, Eric J.; Darling, Andy; Kreager, Zo; and Conrad, Susan Howes (2018). "Research on Students' Conceptual Understanding of Geology/Solid Earth Science Content". In St. John, K (Ed.) (2018). Community Framework for Geoscience Education Research. National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.25885/ger_framework/2