Service Learning in Field Mapping Techniques

Thursday 2:15pm Northrop Hall: 116


Julia Nord, George Mason University
Lori Mandable, George Mason University
Thomas Wood, George Mason University
Undergraduate research experiences have been linked to recruiting and retaining students in STEM fields. A base-level understanding of research and inquiry processes are needed for students to succeed in these experiences. At George Mason University, Field Mapping Techniques has been transformed into a Students as Scholars (SasS), Scholarly Inquiry course. SasS courses are designed to help students learn content knowledge and attain the fundamental skills that make them capable of evaluating scholarly work. These courses prepare students to conduct their own scholarly project
Field Mapping Techniques is an upper division, required course in several Earth Science and Geography concentrations. It is not designed as a pre-field camp course. Like every SasS class, it is designed around three learning outcomes: articulate a question or problem that is relevant and appropriate; communicate knowledge from that scholarly project through writing, or presenting, appropriate to the audience and context; and, demonstrate attention to ethical principles. In addition, this class meets two other SasS outcomes: it enables students to design and execute a project plan and acquire information or data using credible and applicable strategies. Finally, it is an experiential learning (EL), service learning, and team-focused course.
In 2016, students met with a local landowner starting a project to return agricultural fields to forested wetlands. He needed base-line spatial data. Students designed and developed field-based projects that enabled them to collect data and present usable maps/suggestions back to the landowner. In this way, we utilize Kolb-based EL to engage current, real world issues with repetitive, reflective practice. We hypothesized that students would self-identify increased interest, capacity and ability to apply their canonical knowledge, and consequently improve understanding and retention of that knowledge. Several of the students have continued to reassess the maps through this semester in their own time.

Presentation Media

Service Learning in Field Mapping (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 12.9MB Jul20 17)