The impact of inclusion: A student's perspective of participating in a fully-accessible geoscience field course

Tuesday 3:15pm REC Center Large Ice Overlook Room
Oral Presentation Part of Geoscience Education Research II


Charles Paradis, The University of Tennessee
Christopher Atchison, University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
Brett Gilley, University of British Columbia
Anthony Feig, Central Michigan University
Alison Stokes, University of Plymouth (UK)
Students with disabilities are commonly marginalized from full participation in field-based geoscience courses due to the inherent challenges of accessibility. However, in order to increase the number and diversity of students in the geosciences we must address such challenges by designing and implementing field-based courses that are more inclusive to a full range of student abilities. Therefore, case studies of such courses are critical in terms of providing quantitative and qualitative data for educators to utilize in order to provide a more inclusive student learning experience. Moreover, the student perspective of such case studies can provide important feedback to educators in order to create an iterative approach to optimizing fully-accessible field-based geoscience courses.

In this study, an international team of geoscience education researchers collaborated in the design and implementation of a single-day and fully-accessible field course conducted in Vancouver, BC. Of the 30 participants, 18 self-disclosed having a sensory, physical and/or cognitive disability. The field trip curriculum included stops at numerous geological points of interest where collaborative geoscience teams of students and faculty observed coastal, glacial and volcanic processes. Student and faculty partners discussed geological process mechanisms and impacts on the environment and civilization. Observation of each stop were facilitated by flat-area access sites, near-range bulk features, field-scout hand samples, tactile maps, and real-time digital audio-visual communication. Pre-course field scouting and post-course interviews were also performed to compile a rich and complete data set.

The design, implementation and post-course insight from this case study will be presented from the student perspective. Lessons learned from this study will be emphasized in order to better inform educators on ways to ensure field-based courses are more inclusive to a full range of participant abilities.