Geocaching as a tool for experiential learning and self-guided adventures in large geology courses

Wednesday 1:45pm Northrop Hall: 116


Kelly Lazar, Clemson University
Stephen Moysey, East Carolina University
John Wagner, Clemson University
Alan B. Coulson, Clemson University
scott brame, Clemson University
It is uncommon for large service geology courses to provide engaging outdoor experiences that effectively mimic the experiences of working geologists, a critical component of recruiting students to geology. To address these deficiencies, extra credit activities were created that utilize the hobby of geocaching to provide students with outdoor, extracurricular, place-based learning experiences. Students from geology service courses completed short geology lessons at each geocaching site, using Google Forms to report their observations and data. Each activity requires the completion of an online activity form and the submission of a 'geoselfie', used to ensure that students visited the location and to promote the sharing of these geology experiences on social media. Across more than 700 completed activity evaluations, approximately two-thirds of student evaluations agreed that the student enjoyed the activity and learned something while completing it, and almost half of evaluations indicated the student wanted to learn more about the topic after completion of the activity. Participation in activities varies mostly by gender and achievement, and to some degree, by class rank. Participation rates were largely unaffected by the student's major or ethnicity. Students indicated enjoyment in learning about local geology, exploring places around campus they would typically never visit, and joining a larger community of geology students. We aim to expand the number and types of activities offered to these students to allow them to explore their diverse interests within the geosciences.