Using Field Observations and Field Experiences to Teach Geoscience

This site was was created to support a session at GSA meeting in 2004. The site now provides access to the content of the session through a searchable set of posters.

Information for Contributors

Field observations and field experiences have traditionally been at the core of geoscience instruction. This session is designed to allow the entire GSA community to come together to share and discuss both traditional and emerging roles of field experiences in teaching geosciences. The field experience has been integral to the professional development of future geoscientists, and is particularly important as it applies to student understanding of spatial, temporal and complex systems. The nature of students' field experiences is changing as employment opportunities for geoscientist evolve, emphasis in the geoscience curriculum at all levels (K-16, informal education) shifts, and practicial and logistical challenges become more complex. Because of the importance of field experiences to geoscience education, this session calls for discipline-wide reflection of the role of field experiences in the geoscience curriculum and the preparation of future geoscientists.

This session will showcase the breadth of field activities, strategies and methods that are used in the many disciplines encompassed by geoscience education. We invite contributions demonstrating the range of field experiences, as well as the use of field observations in class activities that promote student learning, e.g.

  • Field trips (in-class or extended; local and regional)
  • Field laboratories
  • Field camp, field stations
  • Research experiences and opportunities for students
  • Importation of field observations/measurements into classroom use

To assist colleagues in improving instruction in the field in their own settings, we ask all contributors to address: learning goals (e.g. content and concepts, geological skills, higher order thinking skills, other skills); context (e.g. audience and role of the activity in a course or other learning environment); materials, data, tools, logistics; and evaluation (goals and techniques). Some additional topics for discussion may include:

  • "What works", instructional strategies, practices, teaching tips?
  • What is the value added to a course of study by providing a field experience or by incorporating field data?
  • What are the impacts on student learning? How can we best evaluate these impacts?
  • How can field observations and experiences help integrate research and education?
  • What is the relation of instruction in the field to learning in the classroom?
  • What is the role of field experiences in pre-professional training of students?
  • What new opportunities are now available through new technologies such as computers, communication systems, GIS/GPS, and monitoring equipment?

The contributions to this session will be preserved in an on-line searchable collection designed to foster continued sharing and interaction. To make the session and the resulting collection of highest use as we think about teaching and work to adapt and adopt ideas from colleagues, we ask that each contributor:

  1. Description of Session 124
    View Session Abstracts ( This site may be offline. )
  2. Complete the submission form (offline - no longer valid), which includes uploading a pdf file of their poster, as soon as possible.
  3. Display your poster at the opening session, Sunday evening 5:30-8:30PM, adjacent to the welcoming reception at GSA.

The submission form must be completed in a single session (leaving the session erases the data) at the same time your poster is uploaded. You may find it simplest to review the questions on the form, compose brief answers to them offline and then actually fill out the form in one go once your poster is complete.

As guidelines to help make these presentations both comprehensive and useful, we ask that all abstracts and posters address learning goals; the context of the activity; a description of the activity and its outcomes; and evaluation strategies. You may wish to use the same text in the poster that you develop for the form below.

The session will take place on Sunday November 7, 5:30-8:30 PM in the poster hall. There are opportunities for several hundred posters. The one paper rule is waived for this session.

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