Access and inclusion from the perspective of current departmental practice

Wednesday 4:30pm-5:45pm Student Union: Ballroom B
Poster Session Part of Wednesday Session


Ivan Carabajal, University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
Christopher Atchison, University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
Many traditionally-designed geoscience courses and field-experiences are unintentionally presenting barriers to active participation for students with disabilities (SWD). As such, these barriers are potentially contributing to the under-representation of persons with disabilities in the geoscience discipline. Although geoscience organizations are calling for more inclusive approaches to geoscience education, departments have been left to independently develop inclusive curricula with little insight or pedagogical training. In order to encourage geoscience departments to implement inclusive instruction, we must first understand current practices on promoting accessible field experiences.
This presentation reports on the findings of a recent study on the conceptions geoscience instructors, and U.S. geology departments, have regarding field-based accessibility. This study collected survey data from 160 two-year and four-year geology departments and follow-up interview data from three geoscience instructors from different institutions. Data collected included information on departmental practices when attempting to provide adequate field experiences for SWD, department confidence in assessing field site accessibility, and the culture of access and inclusion in their own geoscience department. Reported practices were thematically analyzed according to: (1) modifications, (2) accommodations, (3) adaptations, and (4) accessible options. Key factors emerging from this study suggest that instructors and field assistants would benefit from additional safety, inclusion, and accessibility-assessment training. This study promotes inclusive field-based instruction through critical insights on current departmental practices.