The spectacular geological panoramas of Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP) motivate the curiosity of visitors about geology. However, there is little research on how well these visitors understand the basic geologic principles on display in the Canyon walls. The new Trail of Time (ToT) interpretative exhibit along the South Rim uses Grand Canyon vistas to teach these principles. Now being visited by thousands daily, the ToT is a uniquely valuable setting for research on informal learning of geologic time and other basic geologic concepts. At the ToT, visitors are not only asked to comprehend a linear timeline, but to associate it with the strata exposed in the walls of the Canyon. The research addressed two primary questions: (1) how do visitors of the National Park use elements of the geologic landscape of the Grand Canyon to explain fundamental principles of relative geologic time? and (2) how do visitors reconcile the relationship between the horizontal ToT timeline and the vertical encoding of time in the strata exposed in the Canyon walls? Semi-structured interviews tracked participants' understanding of the ToT exhibit and of basic principles of geologic time. Administering the verbal analysis method of Chi (1997) to the interview transcripts, the researcher identified emergent themes related to how the respondents utilized the landscape to answer interview questions. Results indicate that a majority of respondents are able to understand principles of relative geologic time by utilizing both the observed and inferred landscape of Grand Canyon. Results also show that by applying the same integrated approach to the landscape, a majority of respondents are able to reconcile stratigraphic time with the horizontal ToT timeline. To gain deeper insight into the cognitive skills activated to correctly understand geologic principles the researcher used Dodick and Orion's application of Montangero's (1996) diachronic thinking model to code responses into three schemes: (1) transformation, (2) temporal organization, and (3) interstage linkage. Results show that correct responses required activation of the temporal organization scheme or the more advanced interstage linkage scheme. Appropriate application of these results can help inform the development of future outdoor interpretive geoscience exhibits.
- A study on how the public uses the landscape to understand principles of geologic time while experiencing the Trail of Time interpretative exhibit In Grand Canyon National Park
The date the item was original created (prior to any relationship with the ASU Digital Repositories.)
- General Education
- Geology--Arizona--Grand Canyon National Park.
- National parks and reserves--Interpretive programs--Arizona--Grand Canyon National Park.
- National parks and reserves
- Interpretation of cultural and natural resources--Arizona--Grand Canyon National Park.
- Interpretation of cultural and natural resources
- Geological time--Study and teaching--Arizona--Grand Canyon National Park.
- Geological time
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by Rebecca Frus