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Water Wars field trip experience: a comparison of real and virtual field trips

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Laurie Cantwell, Montana State University
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A virtual and traditional field trip experience that was designed to study how virtual field trips should be used in geoscience curriculum. Field trip exercises are based on a local groundwater controversy that involves geologic, hydrologic and environmental policy. Students role-play as geoscientists, evaluate the problem and provide recommendations for addressing the issue.
GSA Poster (PowerPoint 18.6MB Oct21 04)

Learning Goals

Content/Concepts:
groundwater flow and aquifer properties
geologic controls on groundwater
geologic history of Gallatin Valley

Geologic Skills:
stream gauging
recording field notes and observations

Higher Order Thinking Skills:
developing and articulating questions regarding complex local environmental issue
evaluating and drawing conclusions from data
developing hypotheses from field observations

developing and articulating a scientific argument

Other Skills:
gain an appreciation for the complexity of the natural world

Context

Instructional Level:
Undergraduate entry level

Skills Needed:
igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic rocks
limited groundwater/surface water hydrology
scientific method/thought

Role of Activity in a Course:
As central integrating theme (best) OR
Stand-along exercise

Data, Tools and Logistics

Required Tools:
Water Wars virtual field trip (available online)-no special training necessary.

Logistical Challenges:

Evaluation

Evaluation Goals:
Determine if a virtual field trip can achieve the same learning goals expected from traditional field trips,
Determine if virtual field trips are most effective as a pre or post activity when used in conjunction with a traditional trip,
Provide suggestions for the development of effective virtual field trips

Evaluation Techniques:
pre-test: demographics, multiple choice and sketch
post-virtual field trip: confidence log, concept map
post-traditional field trip: confidence log, concept map
post-full activity: report and field notebooks (scored with rubrics)

Description

This study establishes the value and optimal role of virtual field trips in the Earth Science curriculum. A virtual field trip and traditional field trip counterpart were designed to evaluate the learning goals addressed during virtual field trips and how a virtual field trip can be used in conjunction with a traditional field trip. Results and conclusions are summarized on the poster.