Round Robin Field Methods Protocols for Improved Outcomes
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
1) bringing correct set of equipment to the field that is in working order
2) calibrating and utilizing the equipment properly
3) reporting on the results using QA/QC protocols
4) working as a project team with a project manager
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
2) trouble shooting field equipment or sampling areas
3) negotiations with land owners or regulators
Other skills goals for this activity
2) competent operation of field equipment
Description and Teaching Materials
Field exercises are usually far more difficult than laboratory exercises. Two factors are field conditions and lack of familiarity by the students of the equipment. The exercises generally fail due to students not knowing what to bring, students not feeling responsible for the exercise, and finally, only seeing the exercise once.
The round robin approach attempts to improve the situation by utilizing two features not normally included when teaching field exercises.
The first is a round robin approach where 3 field exercises are taught simultaneously. This allows the students to be affiliated with the same exercise three times instead of only one. As difficulties arise in the second and third round, students have experience to assist each other in taking good data from the mistakes they learned in round one.
The second adjustment is the nomination of a project manager from a student group. The groups should consist of 3-6 students with one of them nominated as project manager. The manager is the one that will communicate with the instructor (upper management). The other students much communicate their problems to the manager and the manager must assign tasks to complete the assigned project.
These two adjustments allow a more complete understanding of each exercise as they see it or are asked questions about it three times. The groups who complete the task in round three take lots of lessons from the first two groups completing the same task.
The project managers change the dynamic from any problem being the faculty's problem to the manager's problem. Thus managing field problems becomes part of the inherent exercise where it should be instead of a tension between the faculty and the students.