Enhance Student Learning and Engagement
Opportunities to learn in the field are commonly cornerstone experiences for students in the geosciences. Instruction in the field presents unique and exciting ways to engage students with geoscience content. When field instruction is combined with robust pedagogical approaches, development of scientific habits of mind, and opportunities to build practical and professional skills, it can serve as a foundation for undergraduate geoscience education.
Use Strong Pedagogical Practices and Techniques
Learning in the field is inherently active and engaging. However, much like in the classroom, effective teaching activities are built on achievable learning goals, aligned assessment, and evidence-based instruction. Field settings provide enhanced opportunities to engage students with geoscience content, skills, and ways of thinking.
- Define learning goals aligned with the context of the field experience: Course Design, Geoscience in the Field, Starting Point
- Learn more about assessing student learning in the field: Geoscience in the Field, Starting Point, Student Learning
- Use effective, evidence-based teaching methods: Geoscience in the Field, InTeGrate, Pedagogy in Action
- Scaffold field exercises to address uncertainty and novel experiences: Geoscience in the Field, SAGE 2YC, Starting Point, Undergraduate Research
- Teach with instructional strategies that support spatial thinking: Spatial Thinking Workbook, Research on Learning, Spatial Thinking in the Geosciences
Develop Scientific Habits of Mind and Practical Skills
Field settings provide opportunities for students to "think like a geologist," requiring them to deal with large, dynamic, and complex systems; make decisions; self-monitor and self-regulate; iterate and integrate scientific approaches to inquiry; and perform other tasks not necessarily encountered in the classroom.
- Build student scientific habits of mind: Geoscience in the Field, InTeGrate, Starting Point
- Consider student motivations, attitudes, emotions, perceptions, and values: Affective Domain, Geoscience in the Field
- Incorporate strategies for building practical skills: InTeGrate
- Integrating research practice into field experiences: Undergraduate Research
- Familiarize yourself with impactful teaching practices in the field: NAGT Geoscience Education Research, Research on Learning
Incorporate Technology and Instrumentation
The increasing use of digital technologies has benefited field work in the geosciences. The incorporation of these technologies into field instruction can allow for deeper exploration, increased inclusivity, and preparation for the workforce when combined with strong pedagogy, learning goals, and assessment.
- Provide students with tablets or other technologies to use in the field: Teaching with GeoPads, Geoscience in the Field, GET Spatial Learning, In the Trenches, Undergraduate Research
- Use apps designed with geoscience in mind: Flyover Country ↗, Stereonet Mobile ↗, StraboSpot ↗
- Integrate GIS and remote sensing into field instruction: GIS and Remote Sensing, Teaching with GIS in the Geosciences
- Teach with Google Earth: Google Earth for Onsite and Distance Education (GEODE), Structural Geology, Teaching Methods
- Train students to take effective photographs: Geophotography
Teach Safety, Ethics, and Professionalism
Field settings come with a host of safety, ethics, and professionalism situations that are not necessarily encountered or addressed in the classroom. Training and preparation in these areas is needed in order to produce graduates that are well-prepared for research and the workforce.
- Establish appropriate and professional conduct in the field: ADVANCEGeo, GeoEthics, Geoscience in the Field, In the Trenches, NAGT Field
- Teach about scientific and professional ethics: GeoEthics
- Familiarize your students with geoheritage sites and the ethics of collection: GeoEthics, Geological Society of America ↗, Geoscience in the Field, Montana Geoheritage Project, National Park Service ↗
- Model professional behavior: ADVANCEGeo, SAGE 2YC, Undergraduate Research
Explore Existing Field Activities, Courses, and Guides
Educators taking students into the field are expected to consider logistics, safety, inclusion, and ethics in addition to pedagogy, an extensive list that can be challenging to address. Faculty have contributed their ideas and resources for taking students into the field so that other educators can benefit from existing ideas and opportunities.
- Search for field-based teaching activities: Teach the Earth
- See examples of field-based courses: Geoscience in the Field
- Make use of existing field trip guides: Montana Geoheritage Project - Sites, Road Logs, Trail Guides, NAGT Teaching in the Field, NAGT Far Western Section ↗
- Use on-campus field experiences: Starting Point
- Consider incorporating societal relevance: GETSI, InTeGrate
- See departmental resources for teaching in the field: Building Strong Geoscience Departments
- Learn more about accessible field trips: International Association for Geoscience Diversity ↗