Southeastern Section–56th Annual Meeting (29–30 March 2007)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM


CAMANN, Eleanor J., Department of Geology and Geography, Georgia Southern University, P.O. Box 8149, Statesboro, GA 30460,

Optional field trips are an effective way to give students personalized attention and hands-on experience in large introductory oceanography classes without labs, thereby increasing student learning, participation, and interest in the subject matter.

A particularly successful field trip experience took place in Georgia Southern University's Principles of Oceanography course in the spring of 2005. Funding for educational ship time on board the R/V Savannah, out of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, was awarded by the Georgia Sea Grant College Program. The most frequent beneficial effects cited by students on trip evaluations were: (1) improved understanding of information discussed in class; (2) seeing science in action through shipboard observation along with the opportunity to collect real data with oceanographic equipment; (3) increased interest in the subject of oceanography; (4) a chance to experience something unique and fun - at no cost to student; (5) the opportunity to get to know classmates and the professor better. In addition, the attendance, class participation and enthusiasm of the participants noticeably improved following the trip, and this in turn had a positive influence on the behavior of many of their classmates.

Factors believed to be important for successful incorporation of this or other similar optional field trips into a large class include using the trip as an incentive for students to do well on graded activities, carefully designing assignments both before and after the trip to allow for peer-teaching and involvement of all students in the class, and scheduling the trip about a month into the semester. The latter allows sufficient time to introduce students to field trip activities, build enthusiasm and encourage participation, yet is early enough that late-semester demands on student time are not a factor and the beneficial effects described above impact the majority of the semester.