Teaching in the Field Across the Geoscience Curriculum
Achieving Program-Level Learning Outcomes
For students to master a sophisticated skill, set of skills, or habit of mind, it needs to be incorporated into multiple courses in the core curriculum. The matrix approach to curriculum design, developed by the Geology departments at the College of William and Mary and at Carleton College, is a simple strategy departments can use to see which program-level outcomes are taught, reviewed, and emphasized in each course in a curriculum.
If your department chooses a set of field skills you expect your graduates to master by the time they complete their major, every field experience offers an opportunity to practice those skills. For example, the St. Norbert College Geology program focuses on teaching students to make observations, to separate observations from interpretations, and to take excellent, detailed notes with annotated sketches.
Examples of Infusing Field Experiences into Core Courses
Field experiences can take a wide variety of forms, from brief excursions out of the classroom to explore campus building stones to teaching entire courses in the field. A number of workshop participants and leaders have explored aspects of teaching in the field in various parts of the core geoscience curriculum. The pages below link to presentations, activities, essays and other resources related to field instruction in particular courses.
- Environmental Geology in the Field
- Geomorphology in the Field
- Geophysics in the Field
- Hydrogeology in the Field
- Paleontology in the Field
- Petrology in the Field
- Sedimentology in the Field
- Structural Geology in the Field
Field Experiences Beyond the Curriculum
Beyond incorporating field experiences into specific courses, there are also opportunities for learning in the field outside of the curriculum. A few departments take annual field trips that are not associated with any particular course, in addition to course-related trips. These trips may be open to all majors and minors, or to all students enrolled in geoscience courses. In some cases, they are run by a student organization (Geology Club), with the assistance of a faculty advisor.