Field experiences provide impactful learning and growth opportunities for students in STEM and allied fields. There are many benefits ascribed to instruction in the field, including opportunities for learning in the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains; exploration at varied spatio-temporal scales; development of scientific thinking skills and habits of mind; and recruitment and retention of students. Despite these perceived benefits, field experiences can also present obstacles for students. Operating in the field frequently requires the ability to move in difficult terrain, extended periods separate from family and employment, and comfort living in unfamiliar places. These barriers can be difficult or impossible for students to overcome. In addition, recent work has also documented systemic issues of harassment and discrimination in field settings. Educators teaching in the field are expected to address challenges of logistics, safety, accessibility, inclusion, and ethics in addition to pedagogy when designing these experiences. It is important that educators and program administrators have access to robust materials and guidance to provide their students with safe, accessible, positive, and impactful field learning opportunities.
The Science Education Resource Center (SERC) provides access to a wide variety of resources developed by NSF-funded projects focused on improving field experiences, such as field-based pedagogies from On the Cutting Edge, access and inclusion resources from SAGE 2YC, and advice on writing codes of conduct from ADVANCEGeo. To assist educators in finding materials and developing successful field experiences, SERC is collecting and organizing high-quality sources for field education strategies, guidance, and resources. The collection acts as a springboard to information addressing important topics in field education, including logistics and safety in off-campus environments, accessibility and inclusion, ethical field conduct, and field-based pedagogy. The collection is designed to be an asset for all educators in STEM and related disciplines teaching outside of the classroom.
View the resources: Design Successful Student Field Experiences