The nature of undergraduate field learning experiences: A framework to guide program design and research
Undergraduate field learning experiences have a rich history of preparing students for careers in the earth sciences and other field-based sciences, yet what constitutes an effective field experience is not clearly defined. Field experiences vary from short field "labs" integrated into university courses, weeks or months-long courses at field stations and marine labs, traveling geology courses, to weeks-long research opportunities. The Undergraduate Field Experiences Research Network (UFERN) is building an interdisciplinary network of researchers and practitioners focused on improving undergraduate field learning experiences. Using results from a landscape study of field-based programs in the U.S., extensive input from the UFERN community, and the STEM education literature, we created the "UFERN framework" that can be empirically tested to characterize dimensions of undergraduate field learning experience program design. The framework highlights the suites of factors that influence student outcomes of field learning experiences, and can serve as a resource to help design learning experiences, guide research about field learning, or evaluate student outcomes.
The poster will introduce the framework, and present a logic model that will guide the use of the framework for design of an undergraduate field program (e.g., research experience for undergraduates, field course, field trip) using the elements of the framework: Design Factors, Student Context Factors, and Student Outcomes. We invite EER participants to visit the poster to discuss potential research ideas related to field-based learning and learn how they can get involved in UFERN, including future professional development in field program design using the framework.