International Research Experiences for Students and Place-Based Learning: Studying Faults in the Malawi Rift
We present the findings from an NSF-International Research Experiences for Students grant that provided 11 undergraduate and 2 graduate students with a month-long, faculty-mentored, hands-on research experience in Malawi, Africa using an apprentice-type model. The diverse group of students was selected from Oklahoma State University and the University of Puerto Rico and participated in research training before traveling to the country. While focused on addressing specific research hypotheses and objectives related to fault mapping and characterization, students gained international field experience in which they increased their skills in geophysical and geological data acquisition and processing. Students learned with and from both domestic faculty and international mentors and students. Thus students were both immersed in international fieldwork and in a new international culture.
Students gained professional skills such as resourcefulness, resilience, collaborative leadership, and cultural awareness. Students were interviewed prior to their departure to Malawi and upon their return to gain a better understanding of their perceptions of their personal gains from this extensive and intensive international field experience. In addition, students wrote daily journals about their experiences. Primarily, most students reported that they made gains regarding their knowledge of geology and their use of geological field methods for data collecting and interpretation. Students reported that this extensive field trip increased their confidence in conducting fieldwork and collecting data in the field. Other students reported that this experience provided them with a better "understanding for the nature of scientific research" from conducting field research to writing and submitting abstracts. The experience brought career awareness of how to refine their career path as some students discovered a preference for either geophysics or structural geology. Other students perceived gains from the trip that went beyond geology and geophysics as the experience expanded the students' global and cultural awareness.
PDF of Poster for NSF-IRES Malawi Rift (Acrobat (PDF) 1000kB Jul10 20)
Poster Presentation Video (PowerPoint Slideshow (.ppsx) 10.7MB Jul10 20)
Poster Presentation Video Captions (Text File 6kB Jul10 20)