Preparation for Geoscience Fieldtrips: The benefits of field training for confidence

Monday 3:30pm


Paul Ashwell, University of Toronto
Alison Jolley (AJ), University of Waikato
Jacqueline Dohaney, University of Edinburgh
Fieldtrips are often one of the foundations of a geoscience undergraduate degree, and are at the core of many degree programs. In undergraduate courses taught prior to fieldtrips, students are taught skills in observation and interpretation which are then applied in the field. Additionally, field pedagogies aim to mirror field-based scenarios that students will face in future research or industry careers. However, feedback from students indicates that fieldtrips are also highly stressful; students often feel that they have to work long hours in order to complete an integrated mapping or data collection assignment within strict time limits. Students may not know what to expect from a fieldtrip, and as a result their confidence in the initial stages of a trip is low. Also, students describe feeling unprepared approaching their first large fieldtrip experience even after their laboratory-based pre-field training.

To improve confidence and preparation, we developed a one-day fieldtrip "boot camp" to introduce students to basic field concepts in an authentic setting that closely emulates the exercises they would do on the fieldtrip. The purpose of the boot camp was: (1) to improve self-efficacy and (2) to reduce the cognitive load generated by novel experiences at the start of the fieldtrip.

Here, we present our initial findings on student self-efficacy by introducing the bootcamp and other innovations we are using to support field-based learning. We show that, while some aspects of preparedness benefitted from the boot camp (such as confidence in collecting field data), other aspects were diminished due to reduced follow up lab time (such as interpretation of field data). This suggests that field training of geological skills should occur alongside more traditional laboratory teaching methods.