THE IMPORTANCE OF FIELD TRIPS
DAVIS, Larry E., Natural Sciences, College of St. Benedict / St. John's Univ, Collegeville, MN 56321, ldavis@csbsju.edu and EVES, Robert L., Geosciences, Southern Utah Univ, 351 W. Center St, Cedar City, UT 84720

The challenges of teaching science to undergraduates are many, especially in small undergraduate institutions. These challenges include finding effective ways to teach basic scientific principles and providing students opportunities to "do geology", at a time when prices are soaring and college budgets are shrinking. A common institutional cost cutting measure is to reduce or limit travel, which often means the loss of field trips. Geology is a field science and any professional earth scientist would endorse the benefits of field-based experiences. Enhancement of higher-order cognitive skills, refinement of observation and inquiry skills, increased self-confidence, and improvement in student attitude are all benefits cultivated during field trips. As professional geoscientists, we cannot responsibly eliminate appropriate field activities from the background of our undergraduate students. It may be necessary to invoke extreme creativity when funding field trips. In general, students are willing to absorb most of the real field trip costs, as long as they feel their funds are well spent. Field trips need to be well organized, engaging, and fun.

Well-organized field trips, whether short or long, replicate good science. The methodology of science can only be learned through action: asking questions about nature, creating methods for answering those questions, implementation of methodology, evaluation of answers, and communication of findings with others. Field trips illustrate how these steps occur much more readily than going through a series of laboratory exercises which simply verify something that is already known.

Rocky Mountain - 54th Annual Meeting (May 7–9, 2002)
Session No. 9
National Association of Geoscience Teachers: Field Trips—Their Importance in Geoscience Education
Sharwan Smith Center: Cedar Breaks
1:00 PM-5:00 PM, Tuesday, May 7, 2002
 

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