Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 3:15 PM
STUDENTS AS FIELD TRIP LEADERS: PROMOTING ACTIVE LEARNING AND GROUP COLLABORATION WITH A SEMESTER-CULMINATING FIELD TRIP PROJECT IN MONTANA
Field trips are a preferred method of instruction for most undergraduate geology students. However, traditional methods of field-based instruction merely involving the transfer of information from the instructor to the students, perhaps only for a few hours in the field, may result in a passive learning experience for some students and a large investment of time from the instructor. In contrast, student-led field trips allow for a more active learning experience by giving students more responsibility for planning and leading their time in the field. Student-led field trips promote the development of a wide array of useful skills such as managing projects, meeting deadlines, working in groups, assimilating and synthesizing the published literature, using maps, making field observations, writing reports, and speaking in public. While this method of field instruction requires less of the instructor's time, care must be taken to carefully design the project so that ground rules, values, outcomes, and methods of assessment are clearly communicated to the students. In addition, the considerable time required for the students to complete the project must be factored into the course schedule.
This talk will summarize a semester-culminating fieldtrip project designed for undergraduate metamorphic petrology students at Montana State University-Bozeman. This project was designed to take advantage of the excellent geologic setting of southwestern Montana, while giving the students a creative experience that applied their knowledge of hard-rock petrology and local/regional geology. Groups consisting of 3-4 students were assigned segments along two field trip routes and given a list of focus topics, suggestions for secondary topics of interest, and a list of references from which to gather information and materials. Collaboration within and between groups resulted in two guidebooks to supplement the field trips. Grades were assigned to each group based on their contributions to the guidebooks and the quality of oral presentations made during field trip stops. Student feedback concerning the project was overwhelmingly positive.