Geology in the Field: Assessing and Redesigning Field Courses to Improve Student Learning in the Geology Program at CSU, Chico

Wednesday 3:00pm Weeks Geo: AB20
Oral Presentation


Rachel Teasdale, California State University-Chico
Hannah Aird, California State University-Chico
Todd Greene, California State University-Chico
Ann Bykerk-Kauffman, California State University-Chico
Russell Shapiro, California State University-Chico
A suite of three required field courses at CSU, Chico provides early and repeated exposure to field experiences throughout the junior and senior year of geology majors. Five faculty members teach the suite of field courses in rotation but have only recently begun to systematically examine the integration of the courses for their impact and support of each other and on other courses in the geology curriculum. With internal campus funding, all geology faculty visited five field areas in southern California together in January 2016. From this, faculty are developing activities for non-field courses that incorporate and support learning objectives of field courses. Examples include using suites of samples from the field areas in the Mineralogy & Lithology and Paleontology courses; introduction to regional geologic histories of field areas in Historical Geology and the integration of structural problems from the field in Structural Geology. We expect that this integration of on-campus activities with field courses will result in more cohesive experiences for faculty to scaffold content throughout the curriculum, to improve student learning. We have also developed and begun administering a survey to measure student learning and confidence. Early results include significant increases in student confidence in their ability to complete field based tasks (e.g. use of a Brunton, with improvement of 2.4 out of 5 Likert scale points) during the first field course. This confidence is mirrored in some content learning questions which show improvement in the mechanics of field work before and after the first field course. Interpreting field relationships also improve but areas with lower learning gains highlight areas that need improvement, which will be addressed in field and campus-based course activities. Given the collaboration of all faculty involved, this ongoing work will inform ongoing modifications to the geology curriculum at CSU, Chico.